Wastewater studies in three Sask. cities show COVID-19 levels continue to rise

·2 min read
A look at the UV filtering system used at Saskatoon's wastewater treatment plant. Viral loads in the city's wastewater increased by 1.6 per cent during the latest reporting period, according to a report from the University of Saskatchewan. (Submitted by the City of Saskatoon - image credit)
A look at the UV filtering system used at Saskatoon's wastewater treatment plant. Viral loads in the city's wastewater increased by 1.6 per cent during the latest reporting period, according to a report from the University of Saskatchewan. (Submitted by the City of Saskatoon - image credit)

COVID-19 viral loads are rising once again in the wastewater of several Saskatchewan cities, the most recent data from the University of Saskatchewan showed.

Since the summer of 2020, a group of researchers from the U of S analyzed wastewater samples from Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert for traces of the COVID-19 virus.

Prince Albert data from the latest reporting period, which goes up to Sept. 12, showed a 66.2 per cent week-over-week increase in SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA load in the city's wastewater.

The data is based on the averages of three daily measurements during the reporting period, and shows the third highest value ever reported since the study began two years ago.

Provided by Femi Oloye
Provided by Femi Oloye

In North Battleford the viral RNA load climbed by 12.4 per cent in the reporting period up to Sept. 9, while researchers reported an increase of 1.6 per cent in Saskatoon for the reporting period up to last Wednesday.

In the latest weekly report, both cities saw their fourth highest COVID-19 values measured in the wastewater since the beginning of the U of S study during the pandemic.

As the small increase indicates, numbers are considered static in Saskatoon compared to the viral load measure during the previous reporting period, according to the latest data.

However, the report said the increase still indicates a rise in infections in the city, "which is consistent with the overall trend over the last month."

Provided by Femi Oloye
Provided by Femi Oloye

The concentration of viral particles in all three cities are considered "large", the report said, because they are greater than the ten-week averages recorded.

Most people who have the disease start shedding the COVID-19 virus through their feces within 24 hours of being infected, said the Global Institute for Water Security on its website.

An increase in viral load detected in wastewater indicates a hike of infections in the cities the samples were taken in.