Reduction of viral load in Thessaloniki wastewater slows after initial improvement

Samples from Thessaloniki’s urban wastewater collected between November 25 and 30 revealed that an initially rapid reduction of the SARS-Cov-2 viral load has slowed down significantly over the last week and that viral levels remain alarmingly high, scientists reported on Wednesday.

“The finds are worrying. The rate of reduction of the viral load is significantly lower than it was when the de-escalation began, which was first recorded in the analysis of samples taken on November 18 and continued over the following days, with rates of reduction reaching as high as 50 pct. In recent days, however, we appear to be tending more toward a stabilisation than an improvement,” stated Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) rector and head of research Professor Nikos Papaioannou, talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

Asked how he evaluates these finds, he explained that the de-escalation is slow because the viral load is very high, something showing that its spread within the community is significant, so that the cases continue to be numerous and the measures need more time to bring results.

“Βeyond doubt, the picture of the wastewater shows that any discussion about lifting the restrictions over the next days is extremely dangerous, as is the slightest relaxation on the part of the citizens when it comes to following the measures. I would say that we are currently at a crucial point that will define how the situation unfolds in the city and how many more human lives will be lost,” Papaioannou said.