Government to continue with COVID-19 wastewater studies

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Wastewater treatment plant in Tallinn. Source: Tallinna Vesi

The government has dropped an earlier plan to discontinue the wastewater studies for the spread of the coronavirus and announced that the studies will continue to be conducted throughout summer.

"Coronavirus spread shows a quiet increasing trend. We must continue to monitor the spread of the virus very carefully, because it is important to catch increases in infections as soon as possible. Wastewater monitoring studies give us a chance to do that. This is why we have allocated resources to also monitor wastewater in the summer months," said Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform).

The government initially planned to stop the sewage study for the month of July, as it did last year, but recent trends in the spread led to it being necessary to monitor sewage as soon as possible, the education ministry's communications office announced on Thursday.

The University of Tartu will continue to conduct the studies from August after reviewing the study with the education ministry, the Health Board will monitor wastewater until then.

"Monitoring wastewater must continue from a crisis management perspective even during researchers' vacations and the Health Board will take over monitoring for that period. Sewage monitoring will continue with similar methods as the University of Tartu and the board will use the same samples," said Health Board director Üllar Lanno.

Study results will be published operatively on the Health Board's webpage and an overview of the situation will be forwarded to the government.

The education ministry is responsible for the conduction of wastewater studies and finances it through the EU's recovery fund. Sequencing of virus strains and public spread monitoring will also continue in the summer period.

The most recent monitoring results confirm a decrease in coronavirus amounts in wastewater all over Estonia.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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