UWindsor Project Tests Wastewater for COVID-19

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The University of Windsor is helping track the spread of COVID-19, through wastewater.

Researchers at the university received $300,000 from the federal government earlier this month for the project.

Mike McKay is leading the team in Windsor and says signs of a virus are always present in untreated wastewater.

"When people are infected with COVID-19 they shed the virus in their feces, which gets carried through the wastewater stream," he added.

He says researchers will use the baseline already established through testing to map trends.

"By collecting a sample at the waste water treatment plant, the genetic signature of the virus is preserved and we can actually assess infection within the community," he says.

McKay tells AM800 News the majority of the funding will go towards equipment that could be used long after the pandemic ends.

"One is to purchase an instrument that's going to allow us to actually screen, not just for COVID-19, but for other viruses and pathogens that are in waste water," says McKay.

More than $28-million has been distributed to 79 projects from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation Fund.

McKay says weekly testing is already under way at wastewater treatment plants throughout Windsor-Essex.

According to McKay, the water treatment process does effectively kill viral material before it returns to our lakes and streams.