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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Wednesday began a study into whether sewage samples can be used to detect signs of a spread of novel coronavirus infections.

To prepare for an expected second wave of COVID-19 infections, the metropolitan government aims to establish a method to analyze sewage for the virus in cooperation with the Japan Society on Water Environment.

Similar research has already started in the United States and France.

The metropolitan government will collect 300 milliliters of treated and untreated sewage samples once a week at 15 sewage treatment plants in the nation’s capital.

The samples will be frozen and stored until ways to extract the coronavirus and analyze it are established. Samples for the research will be collected until the coronavirus state of emergency is lifted.

On Wednesday, the metropolitan government collected samples at its Shibaura Water Reclamation Center in the presence of media organizations.

The risk of infection through contact with sewage is considered low, as the World Health Organization says feces from infected people pose low infection risks, according to metropolitan government officials.

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