Regina, Saskatoon wastewater studies continue to see very high COVID-19 levels

·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)

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina say levels of COVID-19 remain very high in wastewater studies in the province's two largest cities.

In Saskatoon, viral RNA levels decreased by 35.3 per cent in the latest weekly reporting period, but that decline comes after a 742 per cent increase reported Apr. 11.

In Regina, researchers said viral load has remained relatively stable since the last report issued by the university, which also saw a huge spike in viral load.

Preliminary research shows Regina's numbers may be trending down, although not sharply.

"Considering the high levels we've seen, it probably won't drop dramatically in the coming reporting period," said molecular biologist and University of Regina professor Tzu-Chiao Chao.

"With some luck, we may get close to what we saw before the increase, but we don't know yet."

Meanwhile, Saskatoon researchers also predicted that evidence of COVID-19 was on the decline in that city.

Both Prince Albert and North Battleford saw increases of COVID-19 in its wastewater. Prince Albert samples showed an increase of 112.7 per cent, while North Battleford saw an increase of 60.1 per cent.

Both studies found that Omicron subvariants continued to make up most of the samples taken from the wastewater.

The research teams found a small amount of what appears to be the Omicron XN variant in Moose Jaw and North Battleford, although they both said it was too early to tell if it was significant.

Researchers use the data from these wastewater studies to predict levels of COVID-19 into the future.

All data has been given to researchers at the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

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