Coronavirus level continues to be the highest in southern Estonia

This week’s results of the waste water monitoring study led by the University of Tartu show a continuous increase in the amount of coronavirus. The virus level is the highest in samples collected from southern Estonia. Since last week, a notable increase has also occurred in Harju and Ida-Viru County.

Compared to last week, there are more places where the waste water reflects a wide or a very wide spread of the virus. While a week ago, Harju and Ida-Viru County stood out by lower levels of the virus, the situation has changed by now, and the waste water samples collected from there also include virus amounts exceeding the Estonian average. According to the lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, this week has brought a slight increase in virus amounts almost everywhere, but compared to the rest of the country, southern Estonia stands out by a vast spread of the virus. “In the south, the infection has spread rather extensively from larger cities to many smaller places. We can expect the number of the infected to increase in that region,” said Tenson.

How are the samples collected?

Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements. Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city.  The spot samples taken in smaller places show the situation at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used in comparison over several weeks to estimate the trend, rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information for estimating the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. 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. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about 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