Saskatoon COVID-19 levels see increase in latest wastewater study

·2 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 say COVID-19 levels in Saskatoon have increased again, signalling that the sixth wave is not over yet.

On Monday, head researcher and toxicologist John Giesy released this week's COVID numbers, showing a 44 per cent increase from the previous week.

"[This confirms] that the viral load is large in Saskatoon, with the second greatest amount ever observed and approximately the same amount as it was a month before," wrote Giesy.

"Thus, it is too early to declare the 6th wave has passed its peak."

Every week, researchers take studies from wastewater systems in they city to determine whether COVID-19 infections are increasing or decreasing in the community.

The latest numbers from Saskatoon come after two weeks of declining COVID-19 viral load.

University of Saskatchewan/Submitted
University of Saskatchewan/Submitted

Meanwhile, the researchers found evidence of COVID-19 seems to be declining in Prince Albert and North Battleford, by 58.2 per cent and 24.4 per cent respectively.

Researchers at the University of Regina are expected to release their latest findings on Monday afternoon. Last week's samples showed a small decline in the city, although levels remain high.

Giesy noted that the proportion of the variants may be changing and the research team will be sending samples to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to perform whole-genome sequencing on their samples.

The laboratory will be searching for new subvariants of the BA strain of COVID-19 called BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5.

"[They] are of interest and concern, not so much because they cause more severe symptoms, but because they seem to be able to avoid immunity from either vaccination or previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus," he wrote.

"These new sub-lineages and now the recombinants of sublineages ae occurring faster than our national team of experts can develop and validate specific quantitative assays."

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