- Study reports the least possible estimate of SARS-CoV-2 infected.•
- This study estimates the infected and actively spreading population in Hyderabad, India during the study time course
- Our study is one of the first comprehensive report of wastewater-based SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in India•
- The effluent from STPs were negative to SARS-CoV-2 indicating the efficient treatment
SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is having a devastating effect on human lives. Recent reports have shown that majority of the individuals recovered from COVID-19 have serious health complications, which is going to be a huge economic burden globally. Given the wide-spread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 it is almost impossible to test every individual in densely populated countries. Recent reports have shown that sewage-based surveillance can be used as holistic approach to understand the spread of the pandemic within a population or area. Here we have estimated the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the city of Hyderabad, India, which is a home for nearly 10 million people. The sewage samples were collected from all the major sewage treatment plants (STPs) and were processed for detecting the viral genome using the standard Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method. Interestingly, inlet samples of STPs were positive for SARS-CoV-2, while the outlets were negative, which indicates that the standard sewage treatment methods are efficient in eliminating the SARS-CoV-2 viral particles. Based on the detected viral gene copies per litre and viral particle shedding per individual, the total number of individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 was estimated. Through this study we suggest that sewage-based surveillance is an effective approach to study the infection dynamics, which helps in efficient management of the SARS-CoV-2 spread.