Thessaloniki's Waste Analysis Showing COVID-19 Still Rising There

Αssociated Press

A man walks past a statue of Alexander the Great, during a snowfall at the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

THESSALONIKI -- Scientists checking the wastewater treatment plant in Greece’s second-largest city and COVID-19 hotspot Thessaloniki have detected the Coronavirus is still prevalent and grew 70 percent from Feb. 8-14, a grim indication lockdowns aren’t working.

That was determined by a team of researchers from Aristotle University there who warned that the spike came after a few weeks of a slow but steady increase, said the team’s leader, Nikos Papaioannou, the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported.

“Our most recent measurements have shown a steep rise in the epidemiological curve,” he said.

“Of course, if we compare the latest weekly average to that of January 18-21, to the period after Christmas when we were at our lowest level, the viral load is up by 345% today. Compared with the autumn wave, we are now at a level similar to late October, just before the start of November’s spike in transmission,” he added.

The team is working in cooperation with the Thessaloniki Water and Sewerage Company and picked up analyses with daily samples instead of weekly to give early warnings about big jumps as happened in November, 2020.

“The rise we have been seeing since the start of the month in the wastewater, will become apparent in the next few weeks at hospitals,” said Symeon Metallidis, a professor of epidemiology at the Aristotle who also works at Thessaloniki’s AHEPA hospital and sits on the government’s scientific advisory committee.

“Wastewater gives us a timely diagnosis, a picture of what we will see later clinically. The methodology is very well targeted and reliable,” he also added.