This week's wastewater monitoring study reveals that a few settlements have high and very high concentrations on what is a predominantly green background. Looking at the average situation in Estonia, virus readings are slightly higher in Harju and Ida-Viru counties and in central Estonia.
The general concentration has fallen over the past week. "Coronavirus concentration has become very high in the area of the Viimsi-Muuga wastewater treatment plant, as well as in Ahtme. The virus amounts in samples from Jõhvi and Rapla treatment plants are slightly lower, but still considerable. Even so, the index representing the average situation in Estonia has remained stable at quite a low level for the last four weeks," said lead researcher of the study Tanel Tenson, professor of technology of antimicrobial compounds at the University of Tartu.
How and where are tests gathered?
Wastewater samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centers and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. In the period of more extensive spread of the virus, samples were also collected from smaller settlements as needed. As the spread of the virus has been moderate in Estonia in the last weeks, this time no samples were taken from smaller places.
Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of wastewater passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city.
The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.
In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Center and water companies operating the wastewater treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analyzed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.
Editor: Marcus Turovski