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Canada to continue testing wastewater for COVID-19 spread

Testing a community’s sewage, also known as wastewater, can determine the presence of COVID-19 in that community
Wastewater testing can find what COVID-19 variants are present in the community (Pixabay).

Although the COVID-19 spread is no longer an ongoing pandemic in the eyes of the World Health Organization, the federal government will still be monitoring potential spread rates through waste water.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced that the Public Health Agency of Canada is partnering with the Canadian Water Network to monitor Canadian wastewater. Duclos said in a statement how this national wastewater surveillance program will help keep Canadians healthy through guidance materials and wastewater data.

“The use of wastewater monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic represented a breakthrough in popularizing an effective public health tool to track and communicate vital infectious disease information to Canadians,” said Nicola Crawhall, CEO of CWN.

CWN is a non-profit organization and a leader in the rapidly evolving field of wastewater monitoring across Canada.

READ MORE: Wastewater off flights from China to Vancouver will soon be tested for COVID-19

The CWN will work with public health practitioners in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as Indigenous communities, to develop training and guidance materials for testing wastewater.

Wastewater testing can result in finding other harmful products in a community. In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that fentanyl, methamphetamine and cannabis levels increased in the start of the pandemic.

“We know that public health personnel are eager to learn more about wastewater-based surveillance,” said Dr. Yoav Keynan from the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases.

“This strategic partnership and our new joint program will provide time and space for information sharing and learning that can be applied to facilities, municipalities and larger health authorities.”