COVID-19 wastewater data spikes in Kingston, Ont.


Restrictions may be lifting, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is behind us just yet.

According to KFL&A Public Health’s COVID-19 in Wastewater data, Kingston’s COVID-19 case rate is four times higher than the January peak of the Omicron wave.

With the lifting of restrictions across the province, and with public health units on board, this has some in the community concerned about where we’re heading.

Read more: COVID-19 wastewater data shows cases are rising again across Canada

“Our ⁦[medical officer of health]⁩ says all is fine because we don’t have an increase in hospitalization,” tweeted Cathleen Crudden, Canada Research Chair at Queen’s University.
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“With wastewater being a leading indicator and hospitals a lagging indicator, this is nothing short of reckless.”

Before the Omicron wave, Kingston had one of the lowest COVID-19 case rates in the province, but when Omicron hit in December, Kingston had the highest case rate in Canada.

However, hospitalization rates are down in recent weeks, but in terms of wastewater data, the region is miles higher than where it was during that time.

“I would like to see public health be more reactive to the data that is presented,” says Crudden.

“Wastewater is a leading indicator, rather than waiting for people to go into the hospital. We are 20-30 times higher than where we were pre-Christmas.”

Queen’s University’s Beaty Water Research Centre is one of the labs collecting wastewater data for the KFL&A region.

Read more: Kingston, Ont. reaches highest COVID-19 rate in Canada due to Omicron spread

With the COVID-19 in wastewater data increasing, experts say it’s likely there will be another rise in hospitalizations in the coming months.

“We’re not sure yet whether it’s going to be a really bad, exponential increase that will suddenly catch us off guard, or if it’s just going to be a slight increase to a new, elevated level that we’ll tolerate for a couple of months until the weather gets nicer and the COVID levels drop again,” says Dr. Stephen Brown, co-director, Beaty Water Research Centre.

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The spiking data, coupled with the removal of the mask mandate, has Dr. Brown a bit worried about the future of COVID-19 in the region.

“A large number of us have said that this reopening is too rapid,” says Dr. Brown.

“We could’ve maintained things like masking with minimal impact on the community.”

Click to play video: 'Kingston, Ont. community reacts to lifting of mask mandates'
Kingston, Ont. community reacts to lifting of mask mandates

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