COVID-19 levels in wastewater increase again in two Saskatchewan cities

The latest wastewater samples in Saskatchewan show an increase in the amount of COVID-19 present across multiple areas of the province according to recent research from the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

The cities of Saskatoon and North Battleford both saw an increase in the COVID-19 RNA load in their wastewater. In Saskatoon, the viral RNA load increased by 52.8 per cent, while the North Battleford RNA load increased 37.9 per cent.

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While the numbers have increased in both cities for two straight weeks, toxicologist John Giesy, team lead at the USask Global Institute for Water Security which takes the measurements, isn’t overly concerned about the increase in numbers.

The latest findings from USask show an increase in COVID-19 genetic material in Saskatoon for the second straight week. Supplied by John Giesy

“The numbers are still pretty low,” said Giesy. “So in Saskatoon at about 53 per cent (increase),to put that into context, that is the fifth lowest number we’ve had in 20 weeks. So it’s an increase, but when the loads are small, just a few people can cause a big increase.”

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The viral load of 63,000 gene copies per 100 ml measured this week in Saskatoon is the second successive increase after a significant decrease recorded on May 13, which Giesy says might be the beginning of yet another small wave of Omicron BA-2.

The latest findings also show a COVID-19 increase in North Battleford. Supplied by John Giesy

“What is a concern is it’s increased last week and this week,” said Giesy. “How high that will go, I don’t know. But it is a concern when we see two increases in a row that indicates we might be starting yet another wave.”

Prince Albert on the other hand saw a decrease in the COVID-19 viral RNA load, recording a 50.9 per cent drop from the previous week.

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The viral load of 70,000 gene copies per 100 ml is the second lowest value in the past 18 weeks.

Of the three cities measured, Prince Albert was the only one to see a decrease in COVID-19 levels in wastewater. Supplied by John Giesy
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