Sewage monitoring study shows high level of coronavirus

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Waste water. Source: Romy Veccia / Pixabay

Results of a wastewater monitoring study conducted by the University of Tartu show that the spread of the coronavirus remains extensive in Estonia and the number of samples containing a large amount of the virus has grown.

Tanel Tenson, professor in the technology of antimicrobial compounds at the University of Tartu and head of the study, said that the growth has occurred at the expense of samples containing medium-level amounts of the virus.

"The general impression on the map has become redder compared with last week. It is shown in the wastewater index describing the average situation in Estonia, which had been exhibiting a downward trend for the past couple of weeks yet has now turned to growth, indicating that the number of infections has likely grown in several regions in Estonia," Tenson said.

High levels of the coronavirus have been found in samples taken in nearly all regions in Estonia, which is why the government's decision to harmonize restrictions in the state is fully warranted, Tenson said.

"The only thing curbing the spread of the virus is reducing the number of close contacts. It is equally important to do so in all regions of Estonia," he said.

The wastewater monitoring study enables early detection of the virus before clinical cases emerge. The study helps discover hidden outbreaks and monitor changes in outbreak dynamics.

Sewage samples are taken weekly in all county centers and towns with a population over 10,000 people. The collection of samples is carried out in cooperation between the University of Tartu, Estonian Environmental Research Center and water companies operating cities' sewage treatment plants. Analyses of samples are carried out at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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