Wastewater study indicates COVID-19 levels remain relatively low in Saskatchewan

·1 min read
A view of wastewater at a Regina-area plant.  (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
A view of wastewater at a Regina-area plant. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

The latest wastewater study from the University of Saskatchewan shows COVID-19 viral loads are lingering at lower levels in Saskatchewan's larger communities.

The Global Institute for Water Security has been regularly testing wastewater samples in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford.

Omicron BA.2 remains the dominant subvariant in all three cities.

The viral loads in each city are based on an average of three measurements over a week and measure the number of particles in sewage. The result provides insight into how much of the virus that causes COVID-19 is in a community — often a cautionary report before a more tangible rise in case numbers and hospitalizations.

In Saskatoon, the viral RNA load decreased by 26 per cent from the week prior and remains as the fifth-lowest record since the beginning of the Omicron wave. The drop came after two weeks of slight increases.

University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan

The viral load in Prince Albert's wastewater increased by almost 50 per cent compared to the previous week, but was still lower than what was seen on May 20.

"The viral load is low in Prince Albert," researchers said.

"When the load is small, even a few additional infections can increase a large percentage," the latest study said.

University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan

The viral load in North Battleford's wastewater has decreased by about 54 per cent week-over-week. This comes after two successive slight increases, which followed a significant decrease on May 13.

University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan

While Omicron BA.2 was found as the dominant subvariant at almost 90 per cent, other non-Omicron lineages were also found.

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