Burlington now monitoring for COVID UK variant in wastewater

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 4:55 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As COVID cases continue to increase in Chittenden County, Burlington’s mayor says they are now monitoring for the new, more contagious strain of the virus.

Testing in the city already identifies COVID-19 in the wastewater, but a new test can also detect the U.K. variant known as B117 that has been detected in an increasing number of states. As of Friday, Mayor Miro Weinberger says they have not found it in local samples. Even though the test is extremely sensitive, it would take several infected people for the new strain to be detected.

“It is not completely definitive -- this testing -- but it is reassuring that it’s unlikely that the recent case growth we’ve seen in the area is driven by that. I think it’s reassuring from that perspective,” Weinberger said.

He also noted that Burlington is one of only a handful of cities in the entire nation to be able to employ this type of testing for wastewater.

Chittenden County reported 44 new cases as of Friday, about one-third of the statewide daily total.

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