New COVID-19 wastewater study shows drop in cities across Sask.

New COVID-19 wastewater study shows drop in cities across Sask.

Viral load in Saskatoon down by more than 85 per cent

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan say their latest COVID-19 wastewater results are good news.

On Monday, researchers announced that traces of COVID-19 in the city’s wastewater treatment plant had decreased by 85 per cent, compared to the previous week.

The decline comes after a huge spike of COVID-19 viral load in April, which resulted in the city’s highest numbers of the virus during the entire pandemic.

John Giesy, a former Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan and current professor, said the latest numbers are making him hopeful.

“I had anticipated the second surge in the sixth Omicron wave, but now we finally seem to have passed the peak,” he wrote in an email.

A graph released by the University shows an 85 per cent drop in COVID-19 viral load in Saskatoon’s wastewater. (Submitted by University of Saskatchewan)

Researchers use the COVID-19 numbers to predict whether COVID-19 infections are going up or down in the community. 

The research team said present COVID-19 numbers place Saskatoon’s viral load numbers as the third lowest recorded in the city in all of 2022.

Samples taken in Prince Albert and North Battleford also show declining numbers, by 65 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

The research team said most of the virus it had detected was from the Omicron variant, although there are some outlying samples that still need to be sequenced by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

A similar study at the University of Regina found a small decrease during the last reporting period, although viral levels remain high.