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Calgary driving increasing COVID-numbers, according to wastewater tracking data, reproductive rate

COVID-19 transmission is increasing across Alberta but is spreading the fastest in Calgary according to data collected by the province's wastewater tracking system and analysis of the reproductive rate, or "R-value."

Alberta's R-value is at 1.15 which indicates exponential spread of the virus, according to Ryan Imgrund, an Ontario-based data analyst who presents his data on his website and social media profiles.

"Calgary right now is one of the top five hard hit municipalities (across Canada) when it comes to COVID-19 numbers," said Imgrund.

He said it means everyone 100 cases of COVID-19 will lead to 115 secondary infections in about three to four days.

Looking specifically at Calgary data, the city is considered the driver of spread in the province with an R-value of 1.25.

"Basically for every four people that are infected right now, they will lead to five more infections, and you can imagine if that happens every three to four days, four infections causing five infections, that is exponential growth," said Imgrund.

He added that the global trend for the month of July is to see a lull in transmission, and it isn't typical to see cases rising at this time.

Restrictions are nearly fully lifted across Canadian jurisdictions and PCR-testing has also been greatly reduced.

COVID-19 is being tracked in sewer water collected from numerous sites across the province, but Calgary is seeing the largest spike in detection according to average weekly samples.

Data for last week shows that Calgary had nearly as much community spread as it had during high points of the sixth wave of Alberta's pandemic in the spring.

Those suspicions were confirmed by Dr. Michael Parkins, the University of Calgary's team lead on COVID-19 wastewater tracking.

"What we've seen in our wastewater right now," Parkins said,  "is that we have more than three times that peak SARS virus, SARS, cov, two viral load that we had with our Delta wave. So there's no doubt that we are well in the midst of the seventh wave (of COVID-19) right now."


Frontline workers say that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, but an eventual surge in patients would further compound Alberta's already strained healthcare system.

"We really need our public health officials and our leaders to speak to what what's going to happen with this rise in this R-value and really guide us. I think the frontlines are quite worried that this is going to translate into a lot more cases of COVID," said Dr. Paul Parks, president of emergency medicine at the Alberta Medical Association.

Some Calgary residents said the rise in cases is not surprising.

"Everyone's pretending COVID is over, no one wears masks and it's spreading everywhere so it's not that shocking," said Amy Shaw.

She added, "Cases will come, cases will go. It's probably only going to get worse when everyone's forced inside again."

Others said it's a matter of taking individual action to avoid catching the virus.

"I still think we have to be careful. I'm waiting for my second booster," said Marianne Jaromi.

"I don't think its going away anytime soon." Top Stories

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