The signs of COVID-19 are at their lowest levels in Saskatoon's wastewater since January.

That's according to the University of Saskatchewan research team that has been monitoring the city's wastewater throughout the pandemic.

The latest numbers released by the researchers show a nearly 51 per cent decrease over the most recent reporting period, which ended June 22, compared to the previous reporting period.

The levels in Prince Albert and North Battleford showed a drop as well and are "at levels near (the) limit of detection," according to John Giesy, a member of the research team.

Prince Albert saw an almost 83 per cent drop over its most recent reporting period, which ended on June 20.

North Battleford's level decreased around 81 per cent. The reporting period ended on June 17.

PREPARING FOR BA.5

In his weekly emailed message to news media, Giesy said the researchers are tooling up to prepare for the Omicron BA.5 subvariant.

While vaccinations and boosters provide substantial protection against severe outcomes, early data shows the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants may escape antibody responses.

"At this time, BA.5 is taking off in the U.K. so we will learn whether it is more infectious or causes more severe illness," Giesy said.

"The information so far is that it can evade immunity either from vaccination or previous infections. So more people are likely to be reinfected."

He said the subvariant is already being found in clinical samples in Saskatchewan.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is anticipating a BA.5 outbreak south of the border this fall," Giesy said.