Researchers using waste water to track COVID-19 in Saskatoon, Indigenous communities

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A project out of the University of Saskatchewan using waste water to track COVID-19 in Saskatoon has received federal funding.

Over the next six months it will expand to help some Indigenous communities as well.

The team has been awarded more than $137,000 by the Public Health Agency of Canada to take the project to five Indigenous communities in the province.

Read more: USask researchers predicting COVID-19 case numbers using wastewater

Currently, it’s being done in Saskatoon. Samples are taken from the water treatment plant, and researchers analyze it, and can see the spread of COVID-19 through human excrement.

One researcher says they can predict trends five to seven days sooner than testing can.

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“We don’t have to worry if someone with the virus has symptoms or doesn’t have symptoms, we’re able to just see the global mixture of that waste water,” explained Kerry McPhedran, engineering professor with the university.

“That allows us to see if the amount of people that are infected are going up or down over time.”

Read more: First Nations workers in Saskatchewan sacrifice wages, vacation to run underfunded water systems

McPhedran said this research can be used as another tool by health officials to track transition and see sooner whether things are getting better or worse…

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