SASKATOON -- Saskatoon’s COVID-19 case numbers are likely to increase exponentially in the next seven days, according to data collected by the University of Saskatchewan wastewater surveillance team.

Virus traces in the wastewater have been climbing, toxicologist Markus Brinkmann said in a news release.

“We expect another drastic increase this week and potentially ranging into next week.”

Infected people shed virus traces through their feces, often even before COVID-19 symptoms are apparent. Changes to virus amount in wastewater precede changes in case counts at COVID testing centres by about one week, according to the university. In the most recent reporting period ending Nov. 15, the amount of virus in the wastewater sampling increased 2.5 times over the previous week.

“We are expecting an average of 100 to 150 new cases in Saskatoon each day. With no significant changes in transmission, this trend can be expected to continue,” Brinkmann said.

The province reported 56 new cases in Saskatoon on Wednesday.