Wastewater analysis shows spike in Saskatoon's coronavirus load, drop in other Sask. cities

·2 min read
A file photo shows wastewater at a Regina-area plant. Saskatoon has reported its highest viral load of the virus that causes COVID-19 since May 13, the latest report from the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan says. However, the number is down significantly from April, when viral loads were at their highest, a researcher with the institute says. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
A file photo shows wastewater at a Regina-area plant. Saskatoon has reported its highest viral load of the virus that causes COVID-19 since May 13, the latest report from the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan says. However, the number is down significantly from April, when viral loads were at their highest, a researcher with the institute says. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

COVID-19 levels in the wastewater of some Saskatchewan cities are plateauing or even dropping, but the level is spiking in Saskatoon, according to the latest study.

The Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan tests the wastewater in Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert each week to determine how much COVID-19 is circulating in those centres.

The viral load of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is reported based on an average of three measurements of particles in sewage over the week. The result provides insight into how much of the virus is in a community.

The results for the week ending June 8 show Saskatoon's viral load jumped by 134 per cent over the previous week, according to the institute.

That's the highest viral load in Saskatoon since May 13, it said.

However, the report notes that when the viral load is relatively small, even a few additional infections can lead to a large percentage increase.

Femi Oloye, a research associate with the institute, said the number is down significantly from April, when viral loads were at their highest.

"When we compare it with what we used to have before May, it is relatively low."

The study noted that 100 per cent of the viral load in Saskatoon's wastewater was the Omicron BA.2 coronavirus variant.

According to the study, viral levels also increased in North Battleford by 28.9 per cent compared to the previous week.

Prince Albert, however, saw its viral levels drop 28 per cent in that same week.

Omicron BA.2 is the dominant strain in both of those cities.

Analysis on Regina's wastewater by the University of Regina shows the viral load is lower than the week before  in that city as well, but remains high.

Viral levels in Regina have remained relatively stable since May, according to the analysis posted Monday.

University of Regina
University of Regina
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