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Metro Vancouver adds coronavirus tool so public can track what wastewater has COVID-19

Metro Vancouver residents have a new way to track the movement of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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Vancouverites can now see how much COVID-19 is being flushed away.

Metro Vancouver residents have a new way to track the movement of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The regional district has created a tool that shows the prevalence of COVID-19 in wastewater in each of the region's five wastewater treatment plants (before the water is treated). The map and tables show the concentration of COVID-19 in the water at each of the plants, which health officials can use to track how things are going, according to a press release.

“Studies have demonstrated that approximately 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases have the virus in their feces,” says Dr. Natalie Prystajecky, a program head with the BC CDC and assistant professor with UBC. “Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population, rather than an individual person.”

The data is updated weekly and will help health officials understand the effectiveness of health orders in different locations.

The five plants each cover a different region each with varying land areas and populations; for example, the Lions Gate plant covers North Vancouver and areas adjacent to it north of the Burrard Inlet, the Iona Island plant covers the City of Vancouver along with the Vancouver Airport and parts of Burnaby, and the Lulu Island plant mostly covers Richmond.