COVID-19: New Brunswick expands its wastewater testing network | COVID-19 in the Atlantic

New Brunswick is extending its wastewater sampling network to more municipalities, which is used to measure the evolution of COVID-19.

The government adds to the network Sackville And St.Stephenindicates a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Sean Hatchard. We are also adding a second sampling location in Saint-Jean, which was already part of the network.

Data from these new locations will soon be included in the national COVID-19 dashboard. It takes at least six weeks of data and analysis to quality control the procedure before any results are published, Mr. Hatchard.

Shippagan could also soon be part of the group, according to the Vitalité Health Network, which manages the laboratory at University Hospital Dumont where the samples are analyzed. The province also regularly sends some samples to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for quality control purposes.


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A scientist at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is preparing a genome sequence to detect possible mutations. (Archive photo)

Photo: Photography LTD / Cory Aronec

The Ministry of Health is currently evaluating the possibility of using this method to also monitor the evolution of the influenza virus and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to Sean Hatchard. But this is already the case, according to Vitalité. Mr. Hatchard did not respond to a request for clarification on this subject.

To determine trends

Wastewater testing quickly reveals COVID-19 trends in a given population.

The stool and urine of infected people become infected with the virus’s genetic material (ribonucleic acid) before they even feel symptoms. It is possible to detect the virus up to ten days earlier than with clinical tests, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

New Brunswick has started taking samples from the region of Moncton in June 2022. It gradually created a network by adding sampling locations to FrederictonSaint Jean, Bathurst, CampbelltonMiramichi and Edmundston.

Samples are taken twice a week at each location.

Viral load jumps 1626% to Campbellton

The number of viral gene copies found in a milliliter of wastewater is used to describe viral load.

As for COVID-19, the viral load detected through these tests is particularly increasing in Campbellton these days. The viral load in this city was zero on April 26, then it increased to 38 on May 10 and it jumped to 656 on May 13. The previous record at Campbelltonwhich dates back to January 5, was 434.


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Wastewater testing these days reveals a strong increase in COVID-19 in Campbellton. (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Xavier Lord-Giroux

COVID-19 is also progressing Edmundston where the viral load increased from 41 to 54. This is also the case in Miramichi from 31 to 54, to Moncton from 33 to 45 and Bathurst from 36 to 42. The viral load at Fredericton and in Saint-Jean remained unchanged at 40.

The total cost of the provincial wastewater testing program is $120,000 per year. Funding comes from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

New sub-variants confirmed

The new KP.1 and KP.2 sub-variants of the COVID-19 virus, which are showing growth in Canada and the United States these days, are now circulating in New Brunswick, confirms Sean Hatchard.

They are part of a sublineage of Omicron, the subvariant responsible for a wave of cases that occurred last winter.

Health authorities estimate that KP.2 causes 18% of cases in the country and that KP.3 causes around 29%. There is no evidence yet that they make people sicker than their predecessors.

According to a report from Bobbi-Jean MacKinnonof CBC



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