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Tartu wastewater tests don't show virus is subsiding

BC, Tallinn, 01.12.2020.Print version

The findings of an analysis of Tartu wastewater samples from last week are consistent with other coronavirus indicators in Estonia, providing no indications that the spread of the virus is subsiding, the head of the survey told Tartu Postimees, cites LETA/BNS.

"Also wastewater shows that in the Tartu area the spread of the virus is on a growth trend," survey head Tanel Tenson, professor in the technology of antimicrobial compounds at the University of Tartu, said. 

Wastewater sampling allows to detect the hidden spread of the infection and get an idea of how many asymptomatic infected people there may be in a certain area before patients start to be registered by the medicine system. 

In providing information about the spread of the virus by region, wastewater enables the Health Board to introduce and lift restrictions by region. 

"The goal is to ease restrictions in some counties when wastewater tests show that the virus is subsiding," Tenson said.

Water companies across Estonia have automatic samplers in their systems which collect samples into a container every hour. From the container, the sample to show the average presence of traces of the virus in wastewater during a 24-hour period is retrieved, Kaido Pohako, manager of the wastewater treatment station of the Tartu water utility operator, said. 

Wastewater samples are taken in all of Estonia's county centers and towns with over 10,000 inhabitants, as well as at major hubs of international traffic. There are altogether 20 points of regular sampling and 28 points of random sampling across Estonia. Wastewater sampling usually provides an indication of an outbreak in a region from five to seven days before an increase in the numbers of positive coronavirus tests is registered.

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