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Analysis of Saskatoon’s wastewater points to decline in COVID-19 cases

Numbers released Monday by the University of Saskatchewan team said there was a 31 per cent decrease in the viral RNA load in the Saskatoon’s wastewater. The Associated Press

A decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatoon could be coming in the next seven to 10 days, according to the latest update from the wastewater surveillance project.

Numbers released Monday by the University of Saskatchewan team said there was a 31 per cent decrease in the viral RNA load in the city’s wastewater between May 6 and May 12 compared to the previous week.

However, the team cautions this might not correspond to a similar drop in cases.

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

“Decreases are roughly indicative of anticipated decreases in new positive cases,” the team notes on its website.

“It is important to note that the magnitudes of these changes are not always proportional … it should rather be seen as a gauge for the direction of change.”

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The latest update noted that 77 per cent of the viral RNA load in the wastewater is contributed by the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. That is a 44 per cent increase from the previous week.

The presence of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, was confirmed in the wastewater, while the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa, was not present.

Read more: Overview of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccination plan

Saskatchewan reported 54 new COVID-19 cases in Saskatoon on Monday. There are currently 562 active cases in the city, the highest total in the province.

Because the novel coronavirus can be detected through human feces before a person might exhibit symptoms, the analysis is viewed as a signal of what COVID-19 case counts might look like seven to 10 days later.

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