Wastewater data suggests COVID-19 is emerging in Alberta as BA.2 variant now the dominant strain

Wastewater collection data across Alberta shows a steady increase in COVID-19 cases.

Wastewater sampling in Calgary hit a low trend in early March, but has risen in recent weeks to levels not seen since mid-February.

“The wastewater testing has shown, especially in Calgary, that the number of cases is rising and the positivity in the people we are testing has also increased,” said Dr. Dan Gregson, an infectious disease physician and medical microbiologist at the university. from Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Gregson says this could indicate an increase in cases and serious consequences in April.

“Hospital admissions are lagging behind test positivity numbers,” he said. “I would expect to see an increase in our hospitalizations over the next two weeks. I just don’t know how high they will go.”

The information is collected through the Center for Health Informatics, overseen by a team of scientists and medical experts from the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, the Government of Alberta and other partners.

CTV News has reached out to the Calgary-based physician and scientist who will interpret the wastewater data and will update the story when that analysis becomes available.

dr. Gregson says the wastewater data analyzed before Wednesday suggests the amount of transmission currently underway is comparable to the peak of Alberta’s September/October wave driven by the Delta variant.

“The difference right now is our vaccination coverage. Those people have had their third dose and those people who are younger and have two doses are pretty well protected from hospitalization,” Gregson said.

“So it moves through the population faster than previous variants. We’re seeing a lot of transmission.”

During Alberta’s COVID-19 briefing on March 23, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw that the BA.2 variety is now the dominant strain in the province.

Hinshaw also said the new species is more transmissible, but not clearly more serious.

“It moves through the population faster than previous variants. We’re seeing a lot of transmission,” Gregson said.

He added that Alberta’s decision to remove public health measures in most indoor public areas will require individuals to take action to reduce their increasing risk of contracting the virus.

“Have your vaccines up to date. If you are at risk for serious illness, try to limit your contacts, use a mask in most indoor settings, and limit your contacts with people who may be contagious.

“Unfortunately, the transmission rates look like you’re going to get it at some point if you haven’t already had COVID-19. For most people who are immunized and not immunocompromised, that will be a mild to moderate infection similar to a severe flu. “

Gregson said there will likely be an increase in hospital admissions.

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