Concentration of coronavirus in waste water is average to high across Estonia

This week’s results of the waste water analysis led by the University of Tartu reveal that in waste water samples taken from most larger cities, the concentration of coronavirus is very high, and average in other locations. For the second week in a row, due to the cold weather, there have been technical issues in the sampling from Tartu, so this result is not included in the overview.

According to the lead researcher, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the virus situation in Estonia has gotten worse over the past week. “The number of samples with a high concentration of the virus has mostly increased on the account of samples with a low concentration of the virus. The latter have been obtained from only a few smaller places,” Tenson explained.

According to Tenson, the composition of the sample taken from Tartu again suggested irregularities in the collection of the 24-hour sample. “The cold temperatures have affected the sampling mechanism, so unfortunately, like last week, the result from Tartu cannot be taken into account. We have identified the problem and I am hopeful that from the next week, we can again consider the analysis results of the Tartu sample,” Tenson added.

Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian country centres and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. Waste water analysis supports the Health Board by providing early information to assess the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The monitoring helps to find hidden outbreaks and monitor changes in the dynamics of outbreaks. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In the collection of samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the water treatment plants of Estonian cities. Waste water samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information and the interactive map with the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu,  5344 5202,