Collingwood shows low levels of COVID19 incidence in Wastewater Surveillance Initiative results

August 26, 2021
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The Town of Collingwood started collecting samples in early February 2021 as part of the Ontario Wastewater Surveillance Initiative. This effort is to assist Ontario’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as an attempt to quickly identify, manage, and prevent outbreaks of COVID-19.

Scientific studies have shown that people with active COVID-19 infections shed the virus in their stool, sometimes even before symptoms start.  This is what prompted the international rise of Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) to monitor the presence of coronavirus genetic material (RNA) in wastewater as another screening tool to help identify the community spread of COVID-19. 

Samples collected from participating wastewater treatment plants are analyzed by Ontario Tech University to detect viral RNA fragments from the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 infection. Emerging research suggests that in wastewater plants that serve smaller communities like Collingwood, a higher level of infection in the community is required to detect SARS-CoV-2 patterns in wastewater samples.

Recent wastewater data support information from reported cases of COVID-19, showing sustained low levels of COVID-19 infection in Collingwood, Midland and Orillia.  Up-to-date wastewater sampling results for Simcoe County and Muskoka County are now available on the SMDHU website: https://www.simcoemuskokahealthstats.org/topics/infectious-diseases/a-h/covid-19/covid-19-wastewater-surveillance 

Town of Collingwood: wastewater viral signal and reported COVID-19 cases
COVID19 Results graph

“I am pleased this important information is now being shared publicly. Our Wastewater team is happy to be able to continue to contribute one piece of information to the extensive COVID-19 decision making dataset, and anything we can do to help increase transparency around information being used for pandemic-related decision making will only help increase public confidence in our health care professionals as they continue to work to keep us all safe and healthy,” Says Heather McGinnity, Manager, Environmental Services.

The wastewater samples are collected from an automated composite sampler at the headworks of the wastewater treatment plant.  Staff retrieve the sample from the composite sampler, mix it well, pour 200 mL into a polypropylene bottle and then courier the sample to the laboratory for analysis.  Although there is no epidemiological evidence that wastewater is a route of transmission of COVID-19, staff wear personal protective equipment including latex gloves, goggles and a ventilator as a precaution when collecting these samples.  

About Collingwood
The Town of Collingwood is a progressive community located in the heart of a four-season recreation area on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. The area is well known for its many natural amenities and its rich heritage. Collingwood is a destination for tourism and many business, sporting and cultural events Collingwood acts as gateway to the South Georgian Bay region, with stunning landscapes that encourage an active lifestyle, and inspire the local arts and culture community.  Downtown Collingwood might just surprise you with 30 plus restaurants, 60 plus boutique shops, spas for relaxing, live music for grooving…all in the only downtown core recognized in Canada’s Registrar of Historic Places!  More recently, the harbourfront area is emerging as an extension to the downtown district.  Plans for expanding the amenities and events in the harbourfront area promise to make this a much more prominent tourism destination.

For more information, contact:
 
Heather McGinnity
Manager, Environmental Services
Town of Collingwood
705-445-1581 Ext. 3301
hmcginnity@collingwood.ca

Christa Carter
Manager, Public Relations & Communications
Town of Collingwood
705-445-1030 Ext. 3274
ccarter@collingwood.ca