COVID-19 levels decrease in Prince Albert according to wastewater report

Graphic courtesy HFCM Communicatie, via Wikimedia This is a representation of what the Covid-19 virus would look like under a powerful microscope.

The USask Global Institute for Water Security wastewater survey for Prince Albert shows that the COVID-19 viral RNA load in Prince Albert’s has decreased by 50.7 per cent.

The number is based on averages of three individual daily measurements in this reporting period up to Nov. 28, which are then compared to the average of the previous week.

This week’s viral load of approximately 56,000 gene copies / 100 mL SARS-CoV-2 is the 40th highest value observed during the pandemic. This concentration of viral particles is considered medium because it is lower than a 10-week average of approximately 130,000 gene/copies in Prince Albert.

This week’s viral RNA load indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 infections in Prince Albert are lower than the previous week.

The proportions of SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in Prince Albert’s wastewater by variant were: BA.5: 9.0 per cent, BA.5.1:0.0 per cent, BA.2.75: 0.0 per cent, BA.2.75:0.0 per cent, BA.4: 1.1 per cent, Other Omicron: 89.9 per cent and non-Omicron lineages: 0.0 per cent.

They also note that the R346T mutation, one of the key signatures of BQ.1 and its sub-lineages, was positive in all samples. Thus, even though we could not quantify BQ.1, it is likely to be present.

All data has been shared with Saskatchewan health authorities.

The research team is also screening for the top three variants of concern: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617). Additional variants will be added to the panel as the situation evolves.

USask and Global Water Futures researchers are using wastewater-based epidemiology to monitor for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and North Battleford wastewater, providing early warning of infection outbreaks. This work is being done in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Public Health Agency of Canada, City of Saskatoon, City of Prince Albert and City of North Battleford.

This variant tracking data should be seen merely as an indicator of trends which need to be verified using sequencing technology through the Public Health Agency of Canada. Because individuals are at varying stages of infection when shedding the virus, the variant levels detected in sewage are not necessarily directly comparable to the proportion of variant cases found in individual swab samples confirmed through provincial genetic sequencing efforts.