COVID-19 viral load continues to surge in latest wastewater analysis for Saskatoon, North Battleford

·1 min read
A look at the UV filtering system used at the City of Saskatoon's wastewater treatment plant. (Submitted by the City of Saskatoon - image credit)
A look at the UV filtering system used at the City of Saskatoon's wastewater treatment plant. (Submitted by the City of Saskatoon - image credit)

Evidence of COVID-19 continues to show up in the wastewater of Saskatchewan cities being studied by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan.

On Tuesday, the Global Institute for Water Security said it had found a spike in viral RNA in samples taken from Saskatoon and North Battleford's water treatment plants.

The study showed a 127 per cent increase in viral load in Saskatoon week over week and a 560 per cent increase in North Battleford. Meanwhile, Prince Albert's showed a 50 per cent week-over-week decrease in viral load in its samples.

The institute uses the information to predict whether cases of COVID-19 in the community are expected to rise or drop.

Global Institute for Water Security
Global Institute for Water Security

The researchers said most people start shedding COVID-19 through their feces within 24 hours of being infected. As a result, wastewater can be an indicator for future cases. It generally takes seven to 10 days for trends seen in the study's results to show up in COVID-19 case numbers for the general public.

Researchers said that while the sharp increase in RNA load shows a likely increase in infections, it may not result in new case numbers, as many people are vaccinated.

According to the provincial government, Saskatoon had 1,038 known active cases of COVID-19 on Monday, an increase of 105. The North Battleford sub-region had 61 active cases, an increase of 11 new cases.

The study provides weekly reports to the City of Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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