Durham Radio News: Ontario Tech researchers trying to predict COVID-19 outbreaks by testing wastewater

A research team from the university’s Faculty of Science is working on a method for testing untreated sewage samples for the coronavirus.

Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, who is part of the research team, says they’ll be collecting dozens of samples from water pollution control plants across Durham.

Every week, they’ll check for signs of COVID-19 and develop a new model for predicting new cases and identifying viral hot spots.

“When we start seeing incremental increases [of COVID-19 in wastewater], we should expect an outbreak in a certain part of the region at a particular time,” explained Kirkwood. “You can kind of get a head start and hopefully dampen that outbreak.”

Kirkwood says it can help track down infections in people who might not show symptoms, making them less likely to get tested.

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