As the University of Saskatchewan research team monitors the city’s wastewater for signs of COVID-19 and finds an 85 percent drop in its latest update, city experts say the trend gives cause for cautious optimism.
“All the people I know who have had it have recovered and are back to work, so I think that’s reflected in our numbers,” said John Giesy, one of the researchers.
Giesy believes the results are a signal that the city has passed the peak of the sixth wave of COVID-19.
“It’s spring, and that’s trending down in general, and now we have a lot of people with immunity.”
Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist at the university, agrees.
“Omicron has infected all susceptible people it could infect and it may be on its way out,” he said.
“I have to say that very, very carefully because it’s still high Omicron and there are so many people getting COVID-19 and it’s all Omicron.”
According to Muhajarine, the decline also coincides with the introduction of two booster doses for people aged 50 and over.
“A lot of people are lining up and a lot of people are making appointments and bookings and getting their second booster dose,” he said.
“It would be nice to see another week, another two weeks of continued declines in this viral load and viral material in the effluent and that will give us more confidence that we are really seeing this trend.”
In its latest weekly Covid-19 report, the province says other respiratory viruses in Saskatchewan have higher test positivity than COVID-19, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at 14 percent test positivity, influenza at 12 percent and enterorhinovirus at 11 percent.
Muhajarine says he would expect other respiratory viruses to be present in winter rather than spring and summer.
Muhajarine is also affected by COVID for a long time.
“Some large studies have found that up to 30 to 33 percent of people who are initially infected have persistent symptoms and signs, persistent organ effects, effects on the brain, intestines, lungs, heart and all of these organ systems long after initial infection” , he said.
“We also don’t know everything we need to know about long COVID, so I really think people who are hesitant about getting a booster dose, first or second, you really should get them for keeping COVID at bay for so long.”