Saskatchewan COVID-19 wastewater data shows viral load remains low

Waste water numbers down in Saskatoon. Still Image/Global News

Weekly data analyzing the viral load of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan wastewaters shows the total viral load remains relatively low compared to the last wave.

The professor leading University of Saskatchewan’s wastewater team detecting COVID-19 viral loads in the province says the latest data shows low levels through Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford.

Read more: Future of wastewater COVID-19 tracking in Saskatchewan in question

“Right now in all three cities, the concentrations are really low compared to the long term average over the last wave,” John Giesy told Global News

The viral RNA load in Saskatoon’s wastewater increased by 21.9 per cent compared to the previous week’s average. The percentage is based on averages of three individual daily measurements.

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Further north in Prince Albert, viral RNA load has decreased by 5.9 per cent compared to the last reporting period.

The viral RNA load in North Battleford’s wastewater has increased by 214.7 per cent based on the averages of three daily measurements, in this reporting period up to July 22.

Omicron continues to dominate wastewater numbers, with Saskatoon proportions showing 29.2 per cent BA.2.12.1, 24.9 per cent of BA.2, and 45.9 per cent of BA.5.

In Prince Albert, BA.2.12.1 makes up 61.7 per cent of the viral load of wastewater, and BA.2 makes up the remaining 38.3 per cent.

North Battleford’s viral load shows a 48.1-per cent proportion of BA.5, marking a 43-per cent increase.

Giesy said he’s heard of lots of people who are getting infected with COVID-19.

“It’s strange to me why our numbers are so low,” Giesy said.

He offered a couple reasons behind this, including that there may be less of a shedding rate for this particular variant, though he has no data on that.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccination rate lower among urban Indigenous people, study shows. Why? 

It could also be that people who are getting infected are not living in the city or using the bathroom in the city, meaning they aren’t discharging into the wastewater treatment plant.

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While the numbers are low, Giesy said the big question remains what will happen in the fall once students go back to school.

With reinfection possible with Omicron BA.5, Giesy says its unknown what impact this will have on people regarding long term COVID or how severe things may be.

Click to play video: 'Future of wastewater COVID-19 tracking in Saskatchewan in question' Future of wastewater COVID-19 tracking in Saskatchewan in question
Future of wastewater COVID-19 tracking in Saskatchewan in question – Jul 19, 2022

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