Flushing COVID away; city keeping an eye on wastewater

It's one of the ways to detect COVID

There are tens of thousands of stories in the bowels of the city, which is why Mayor Jeff Lehman has a preoccupation with poop these days.

“I am interested in our collective poop. And the reason is that sewage is one of the ways that we’re able to detect COVID. People shed the virus when they go to the bathroom, and you can test sewage, for the presence of COVID. Not a pleasant job for whoever has to do it. But a very effective way of knowing how present the virus is in the community.”

Related: A Paxlovid primer: what to know about the new oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19

Boston, Massachusetts was one of the first cities to detect a decrease in its viral load about ten days ago. Lehman says it’s one of the data points to suggest Omicron has peaked, though he adds it’s a little early to make a call based on data from Barrie’s wastewater.

Still, there is other data that is showing some positive signs, “Per cent positivity on COVID tests Ontario wide and locally has dropped a bit in the last week. It’s not enough yet to say last week was the worst … but if the trends hold, we can start to have some confidence that things are starting to get better.”

Related: Ontario sees ‘glimmers of hope’ in Omicron fight, health minister says

Health Minister Christine Elliott said today the province is starting to see “glimmers of hope” in its fight against Omicron; that cases are expected to peak this month, with a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, noted the rate of hospitalizations and cases in the intensive care unit are increasing at a slower pace.