Concentration of coronavirus in waste water samples has increased

Waste water analysis led by the University of Tartu reveals that the spread of the coronavirus remains high and stable. However, the number of waste water samples with a high virus concentration has increased.

According to the lead researcher, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the increase has been on the account of samples with a medium virus concentration. “Compared to last week, the general impression of the map illustrating the analysis results has turned redder. This is also expressed in the waste water index describing the average situation in Estonia, which had been declining for a couple of weeks, but is now on the rise again. This indicates that the number of the infected has probably increased in several regions in Estonia,” explained Tenson.

Virus concentration in waste water samples is above the average in almost all over Estonia, so Tenson finds the decision to harmonise restrictions across Estonia very appropriate. “The spread of the virus can be curbed only by reducing the number of close contacts. This is equally important in all Estonian regions,” said Tenson.

Coronavirus monitoring in waste water provides early information for assessing the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The monitoring helps to find hidden outbreaks and observe changes in the dynamics of outbreaks.

Waste water samples are collected every week in all Estonian county centres and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. 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,