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COVID-19 levels in Sudbury wastewater are rising, researchers say

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According to researchers in Sudbury, the level of COVID-19 present in the city's wastewater is higher now than it was during the same time in 2021.

They fear the levels will only increase in the coming weeks as we head into the winter months.

Researcher Gustavo Ybazeta has been testing the city's wastewater for more than two years. He said the current levels are at 16 copies/ml compared to this time last year, when they were approximately 0.3 copies/ml.

“That means we have some level of transmission in our population in the catchment area," Ybazeta said.

"What will happen in the next days or weeks is to be seen.”

The research is being done at the Health Sciences North Research Institute. Laboratory staff have been monitoring COVID-19 levels in the city’s wastewater, doing three tests a week at the Kelly Lake treatment plant.

Testing is an important tool public health units use to provide a risk index to the community. It's used in combination with case counts, hospitalizations and outbreaks.

“It’s essentially a snapshot of what’s happening within the community," said Katie Junkin of Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

"We do look at it in a seven-day interval, so it's updated each Monday and at this point in time we are at a high-risk level."

Ybazeta said samples taken at the Kelly Lake treatment plant includes about 40 per cent of the city’s population. He said he would like to see funding provided to do testing at half a dozen of the city’s 15 plants in order to give a better overall picture.

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