Saskatchewan. sewage studies show levels of COVID-19 rising across province

The latest COVID-19 sewage studies from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina show the numbers are steadily rising.

On Monday, the U of S study reported 39.9% COVID-positive samples in Saskatoon compared to the previous week. Meanwhile, Prince Albert saw a 74.1% increase and North Battleford saw a 96.6% increase.

The researchers said the three cities appear to mirror numbers seen during a previous wave of COVID this spring.

In the latest weekly report, Saskatoon had its fourth-highest COVID-19 count since the study began in 2020, while North Battleford and Prince Albert each saw their fifth-highest.

The study takes samples taken from city sewage treatment plants and tests for traces of COVID-19. After that, health researchers use the data to predict whether diagnosed cases of COVID-19 should increase or decrease.

« That’s very, very high compared to what we’ve seen, » Femi Oloye, wastewater project manager and U of S chemistry professor, said of the latest results.

« We don’t base our judgment on a single week. We like to see week after week, and from what we’ve seen lately it’s been increasing. »

Oloye said it’s hard to say for sure whether cases will continue to rise. However, health officials across the province have long worried about the possibility of a large wave of COVID-19 hitting the province this fall.

Last month, the province’s chief medical officer of health said masks may again be needed in public spaces if cases continue to rise.

Oloye thinks that if people follow health measures, cases will likely go down.

“If people follow the rules, if they are sick and stay at home, it will certainly stabilize and calm down,” he said.

« But if those people are sick and they keep transferring it from person to person, then it’s going to keep increasing. »

Regina on the rise

Meanwhile, the University of Regina’s sewage research team said the number of cases in that city remains high, but has not seen the spikes other cities have seen.

« We are about twice the highest level of the Alpha wave, but we are still about 60-70% of the highest level of the Omicron wave, » said the University of R molecular biologist , Tzu-Chiao Chao.

« It’s going up, but the increase you’re seeing is not yet the dramatic spike that we saw, for example, at Christmas. »

Chao said the city has seen a gradual increase in COVID activity over the past few weeks.

He said his team is watching the numbers closely now that children are back in school, which has historically been a driver of flu-related illnesses.


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