Saskatoon’s COVID-19 viral load stays steady, Regina sees lower

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Saskatoon’s COVID-19 viral load indicates that infection in the city is at the same level as during the last week of December, according to a University of Saskatchewan lab.

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The viral RNA load in Saskatoon remained stable in the last reporting period, after a holiday period where it stagnated. The load decreased in North Battleford and increased in Prince Albert, U of S researcher Femi Oloye said in an email on Sunday.

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Saskatoon’s viral load increased by 4.9 per cent, in a reporting period ending Jan. 11. The current level indicates that infection in Saskatoon is at the same level observed during the last week of December, the report says.

According to University of Regina researchers, in the most recent period ending Jan. 7 Regina’s wastewater saw a decrease in virus concentration that moved the provincial capital down to low levels.

Prince Albert’s viral load rose by 12.2 per cent in a reporting period ending Jan 9, while North Battleford saw a decrease of 20.3 per cent in a period ending Jan 11.

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The viral loads in Saskatoon and North Battleford are medium and the load in Prince Albert is considered low. Saskatoon’s sits at the 31st highest recorded, while Prince Albert and North Battleford’s are 47th and 44th highest, respectively.

Oloye is part of a U of S team that measures COVID-19 through wastewater. People infected with the virus leave traces of it in their feces, and by measuring the viral load in a city’s sewage, researchers are able to approximate how many people in that city are infected with COVID-19.

Since Saskatchewan no longer reports daily COVID-19 data and relies on rapid antigen tests for testing in the general population, wastewater data is one of the best indicators available for how the virus is spreading.

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