Coronavirus concentration in waste water remains very high

This week’s results of the waste water analysis led by the University of Tartu reveal high concentration of coronavirus in the samples taken from nearly all larger cities. According to researchers, this indicates that the number of infections is not expected to decrease in the next week or two.

According to the lead researcher, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the coronavirus levels in wastewater grew dangerously high at the beginning of February and have not dropped over the five weeks. “This rise has been reflected in general infection numbers as well as in the number of patients needing hospital treatment. Unfortunately, we have to be prepared that these numbers will not go down soon. It would be good if the situation stabilises,” Tenson admitted.

The only place marked in green on the map is Kuressaare, where the number of the infected fell by a third during the last week. “However, extreme caution is essential everywhere these days. Therefore, I wouldn’t dare to be too happy about this one-off result yet. The next weeks will tell how strong the trend in Kuressaare is,” Tenson explained.

The result for Jõgeva is missing from this week’s map because the composition of that sample suggested a technical error occurred while sampling.

Waste water samples are collected every week in all Estonian county centres and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. The study is a tool supporting 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 observe changes in the dynamics of outbreaks. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

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

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

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