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Sault Ste. Marie wastewater sampling shows Omicron at its peak

New data from a wastewater sampling program indicates Sault Ste. Marie has reached its highest peak when it comes to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Wastewater from the city's east-end treatment plant has been tested weekly by Algoma Public Health since early on into the pandemic, accounting for over 50,000 people.

Surveillance data from mid-December, January and February showed the seven-day moving averages have steadily increased.

So it did peak last week, it was the highest we've seen so far since we started the wastewater initiative," said Amanda Perri, Epidemiologist at Algoma Public Health. "We have been monitoring the situation closely because of it."

The indication is that COVID-19 is as prevalent as ever in Sault Ste. Marie.

City of Sault Ste. Marie officials have been closely monitoring the results weekly, but aren't yet a cause for major concern.

"What we've seen throughout the pandemic, is that northern communities are typically delayed by two weeks when it comes to trends in southern Ontario," said Malcolm White, city CAO. "With evidence showing it's plateaued there, we are hopeful that it has peaked here and as sampling goes on, we will see a reduction in the wastewater."

Some evidence of that is already being seen. According to Perri, early results this week indicate a decrease, but it's too early to tell if that's actually the case.

Still, Perri said wastewater treatment needs to be looked at through a larger lens than just the results themselves.

"In addition to wastewater, we continue to look at the hospitalizations, the ICUs, the mortality, which seems to be pretty steady for Algoma," Perri added.

Officials from the health unit will continue to evaluate the situation, but as of right now, there are no plans for increased restrictions in Sault Ste. Marie. Top Stories

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