Wastewater study shows drop in COVID-19 levels in Saskatoon and North Battleford

Omicron and its variants were the only strains detected in the latest wastewater studies for Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
Omicron and its variants were the only strains detected in the latest wastewater studies for Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

COVID-19 levels are down in both Saskatoon and North Battleford, according to the latest data from the University of Saskatchewan's wastewater study.

Researchers with the university's Global Water Futures program have been analyzing wastewater samples from Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert for COVID-19 since summer 2020. The study's results can help predict a rise or fall of COVID-19 diagnoses about a week in advance.

In the latest report, which covers the week ending in Nov. 2, Saskatoon saw its biggest weekly drop so far, with SARS-CoV-2 levels down 80 per cent.

"This week is the 22nd lowest value observed during the pandemic and the lowest viral load driven by Omicron in Saskatoon," the weekly report stated.

The drop means Saskatoon's viral load is now considered "low" and is below the 10-week average.

Global Water Futures
Global Water Futures

North Battleford's viral load also dropped — down 28 per cent for the week ending Oct. 30.

"This week's viral RNA load is consistent with the downward trend observed for five weeks before last week's increase," the report stated.

"Which indicates that SARS-CoV-2 infection in North Battleford is low but not over and should be watched."

Global Water Futures
Global Water Futures

Prince Albert's wastewater did not show the same decline. That city remained relatively stable with a 2.5 per cent increase of SARS-CoV-2 detected in wastewater for the week ending Oct. 31.

While Saskatoon and North Battleford are both considered to have low viral load, Prince Albert's viral load is still classified as medium.

In all three cities, Omicron and Omicron-lineages are the only circulating strains of COVID detected.