Waste water in London, Ont. is showing high COVID positivity

Waste water data has become a valuable asset in determining the level of COVID-19 within a community and in London, it shows an increase.

The January surge of Omicron quickly dissipated in February, but COVID cases have been seen to increase in the last few weeks based on data from waste water testing data.

“You don’t want to look at one sample in isolation, you want to look at sort of the trend. And what I’ve noticed is if I look at the month of February versus the month of March, we’re around three times higher,” said Chris DeGroot, an assistant professor at Western University.

That also isn’t a surprise to Dr. Alex Summers the medical officer of health for Middlesex-London, who said during a committee meeting of council Tuesday night that rates were low, but in the context of a comparison from the peak of the Omicron wave.

“We have known as we’ve stated in the last little while cases have stopped dropping, they’ve plateaued if not slightly increased, and that similarly, given the most recent wastewater that we’ve received in the last couple of days, we ‘re also getting a slight increase in wastewater data as well,” said Summers.

With wide spread testing no longer available, daily case counts are not a reliable metric to gauge infection within the community, Waste water data can’t replace the immediacy of testing, but can be used for another important measurement.

“That being said, we do believe it’s a good leading indicator of hospitalizations because that is you know, delayed by at least a week or two, from when people get infected,” said DeGroot.

With cases growing in European countries, it is likely the relaxed COVID measures in Ontario will lead to an increase in infections in the coming weeks.

“The risk of COVID-19 transmission at this time still remains higher than at almost any point before the Omicron,” Summers added.

Health experts do not expect this wave to hit with the same veracity as Omicron, but do expect cases to rise.

Despite provincial rules surrounding masks to the contrary, the local health unit is still recommending people use face coverings and get vaccinated to best protect themselves from becoming infected.

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