Waste water analysis predicts the infection rate in Tartu to increase

This week’s results of the waste water analysis led by the University of Tartu indicate that the concentration of coronavirus in waste water is moderate to high across Estonia. The highest increase has taken place in Tartu.

According to the lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the increase in the concentration of the virus in waste water has been gradual, without sudden peaks. On this week’s map, the city of Tartu is the only place marked by the bright red spot indicating a very wide spread of the virus. This correlates with the large number of new infections detected in Tartu County. “Our most recent results show that the infection rate in Tartu is very likely to keep rising,” explained Tenson.

How and where 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. This week’s samples were taken only from larger cities and reflect the situation of wastewater passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city. 

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 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 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, tanel.tenson@ut.ee, 5344 5202