Wastewater survey: Coronavirus levels remained stable through April

Wastewater treatment plant in Tallinn.
Wastewater treatment plant in Tallinn. Source: Tallinna Vesi

The level of coronavirus detected in waste water across Estonia has remained stable in recent weeks, and in the case of Harju County even fallen more quickly, according to a recent study by the University of Tartu.

The latest weekly analysis conducted by the university found that Harju County stands for its somewhat quicker decrease in coronavirus level in its waste water, while average indicators elsewhere are seen a more modest fall.

Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds at the University of Tartu, Tanel Tenson, who heads up the study, says the index illustrating the average situation in Estonia demonstrates concentration of coronavirus in waste water has remained about the same through the whole of April.

"We can, however, see a slow decrease," said Tenson, according to a university press release.

The study helps the Health Board (Terviseamet) monitor changes in coronavirus outbreak dynamics and uncover hidden outbreaks, and also provides early information used in estimating the spread of the virus head of clinical cases being detected.

University of Tartu Coronavirus wastewater survey results. Source: University of Tartu

The university has added new colors to its map to differentiate "high" and "very high" virus levels from one another, while no region of Estonia can be considered virus-free at present.

The study involves collecting wastewater samples at the beginning of each week in population centers of 10,000 inhabitants or more (of which there are about 15), and in smaller settlements where necessary, the university says.

In the case of the larger cities, the data reflects wastewater passing through a treatment plant over a 24-hour period, which it says provides an accurate overview, whereas in smaller population centers, spot checks are conducted, which need to be used over several weeks to get a clear picture of trends, due to their greater susceptibility to various factors.

The survey is conducted in conjunction with the relevant water service providers and the Estonian Environmental Research Center, while samples are analyzed at the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

More information and an interactive map is here


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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