Robert Delatolla says the recent surge in coronavirus levels found in sewage samples is similar to increases seen over Christmas and spring, before the nation’s capital saw a surge of cases. “The total concentration of this small genome – this piece of RNA that we tested in wastewater – is increasing,” said Delatolla, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Ottawa.
“This coincided, unfortunately, with the reopening. “
According to the most recent data, levels of coronavirus in Ottawa’s wastewater have been on an upward trend since June 5, after declining steadily for weeks.
As the city’s total daily case count has dropped dramatically – Ottawa Public Health reported just 10 cases on Tuesday – the city’s sewage has often acted as a early warning system on the spread of COVID-19.
Delatolla said rising sewage levels can often result in a week or more of the total number of reported cases.
“It sounds very similar. We’ve seen it in the last two waves, ”he said.
It is not known what is causing the increase – whether it means more people are contracting the disease or a smaller group is fighting more severe cases.
Another complicating factor is the comparatively high level of immunization in Ottawa and how inoculations can affect the data researchers are looking at, he said.
“What does that mean exactly? There is still a lot of science to be done here. “
Monitor the delta variant
Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Estimates the delta variant, first identified in India and believed to be more transmissible than previous variants and more resistant to currently available vaccines, accounts for around 40% of all new cases in the province.
In a recent interview with CBC News, Dr Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital who performs local number modeling, said it was only a matter of time before the delta variant became the dominant strain in Ottawa.
“It’s in our wastewater,” he said.
Delatolla said the delta variant could play a role in the recent increase.
“We hope that’s not the reason here. But we will certainly continue to monitor clinical parameters, continue to monitor new cases daily, and continue to monitor hospitalizations. “