University of Regina researchers, city track COVID-19 in wastewater

Researchers from the University of Regina are teaming up the with the City of Regina to track COVID-19 in municipal wastewater to better predict future trends. File / Global News

The City of Regina has partnered with University of Regina researchers to track COVID-19 in municipal wastewater.

It’s been discovered that people shed the coronavirus in their excrements and now scientists believe they may be able to track COVID-19 trends.

Read more: USask researchers predicting COVID-19 case numbers using wastewater

“(We hope) to use this information and predict — based on the current viral load — how many people are on the low end, infected, and how many people on the high end,” said U of R researcher Tzu-Chiao Chao.

“This is information SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) or other health authorities can use in order to get more information.”

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Researchers began working with the city in August when they were provided with their first sample.

“This is an initiative that has been done worldwide and the approach is pretty much the same,” Chao said.

“We isolate the viral particles out of the wastewater, quantify how much material we get and use that somehow to relate to infection rates.”

Read more: ‘Drastic increase’ in COVID-19 cases likely for Saskatoon: researchers

Chao said the researchers have short- and long-term goals.

“Short-term, we are currently isolating and going through the samples to get a raw viral count that we can manage to isolate,” Chao said.

“We’re going to contact SHA if we see something coming up that is different than what we expect. Our active cases are going up and we see more viral particles through the system.”

Long-term, researchers want to develop a model in which they can translate any viral count into a specific number of infections.

Chao said he is hopeful the work they are doing can be applied to other viruses, not just COVID-19.

Global News contacted the City of Regina, but were told it wouldn’t be commenting.

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USask researchers predicting COVID-19 case numbers using wastewater – Oct 30, 2020

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