Coronavirus traces in wastewater across Estonia are continuing to rise, according to a recent study conducted on a weekly basis, with Ida-Viru County showing particularly high readings.
The study, led by the University of Tartu, analyses waste water – as in sewage – taken at larger and smaller population centers on a weekly basis.
Ida-Viru County posted the largest rise this week, though readings are reported at "predominantly high" or "very high" nationwide (see map below).
Professor Tanel Tenson, heading up the study, said: "Over the week, we have come yet another step closer to the peak of the previous wave of infections."
Readings in Ida-Viru County were now ten times the national average, Tenson said.
"Our results reveal that in addition to Ida-Viru County, the number of new infections will significantly increase also in Harju County and in central and western Estonia. In southern Estonia, the amount has stabilized at quite a high level," Tenson said.
No population centers this week demonstrated zero or negligible levels of coronavirus in their waste water, whereas last week a few towns had posted readings of that level.
Wastewater samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all county centers, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements, and give a reliable overview of infection levels, the university says.
Since the samples are taken as spot checks, the values need to be compared over a longer period of time, the university says, though the tool aids the Health Board (Terviseamet) in monitoring changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks earlier than other testing means.
The university cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water suppliers operating the water treatment plants in Estonian cities.
The samples are analyzed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.
More information is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte