Saskatoon COVID-19: Wastewater researchers report 2nd-highest levels of pandemic

A team of researchers monitoring Saskatoon's wastewater says COVID-19 levels are on the rise again.

In an update issued on Monday, the University of Saskatchewan researchers said a 44 per cent jump in coronavirus material was detected.

The data is based on samples collected over a period ending on May 4.

The increase comes after the team reported declines in its last two weekly updates.

"This is an increase after two successive weeks of declines, confirming that the viral load is large in Saskatoon, with the second-greatest amount ever observed and approximately the same amount as it was a month before," toxicologist John Giesy said in an email to media.

Based on the numbers, Giesy said "it's too early to declare the sixth wave has passed."

The team observed a 58 per cent drop in Prince Albert, with the reporting period ending on May 2.

North Battleford's levels lowered by 24 per cent, according to samples collected over a period ending on April 29.

While the team is working to detect other sub-variants of Omicron — such as BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5 — the majority of the viral material found in all three cities was linked to the BA.2 subvariant, according to the researchers.