Cases of COVID-19 decrease and test positivity increases in provincial report

Graphic courtesy HFCM Communicatie, via Wikimedia This is a representation of what the Covid-19 virus would look like under a powerful microscope.

Saskatchewan’s most recent bi-weekly respiratory illness surveillance report shows a slight decrease in COVID-19 cases across the province.

The report shows Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases are also trending downward. The report covers the period of Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, 2023.

The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 275 in Jan. 29 to Feb. 4 to 207 in the most recent week. Test positivity increased from 6.1 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

Test positivity in Saskatchewan was 6.4 per cent in the most recent week, an increase from 4.9 per cent in the third week of January. Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years and 65+ age groups.

For the two weeks of Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, 2023, there were 418 COVID-19 cases (54 were 0 to 19 years; 157 were 20 to 59 years; and 207 were 60 years and older).

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 5.2 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 6.5 per cent.

Regina’s wastewater COVID-19 viral load remained the same at moderate-high; however, the trajectory is decreasing based on the weekly trend. This same decrease occurred in all areas of the province except for the North West, Central East and South Central.

These are only lab-confirmed cases and not rapid antigen test-confirmed cases.

The province warns that rates should be interpreted with caution because they do not include cases detected by home rapid-antigen test kits.

In the past two weeks, there have been 18 deaths in COVD-19 cases, all in the 60 years or older group. It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this period.

The report shows there are currently 59 hospital admissions and five ICU admissions. ICU admissions remained stable at 4 average weekly admissions in the previous and current two-week periods. The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased from 5.5 per cent to 5.7 per cent this week from the previous week.

BQ.1.1 and its sublineages (denoted as BQ.1.1*) are the most commonly detected variants (52.5 per cent of current reporting period), followed by BQ.1* (27.7 per cent) and XBB.1.5* (10.0 per cent).

The province reported 10 new outbreaks in Long Term Care, care homes and personal care homes.

Of those aged five years and older, 21 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months. With the exception of Regina, all areas of the province have less than 50% of their population up-to-date1 for COVID-19 vaccines

On the influenza side, cases are decreasing in the province. Influenza cases decreased each week from 32 in the first week of January to five cases this week. Influenza test positivity also dropped each week from 2.1 per cent in the first week of January to 0.6% this week which is below the 2.0 per cent threshold for an influenza season. Influenza cases occurred mainly among school-aged children five to 19 years (four of five cases) in the past week. No influenza hospitalizations or ICU admissions were reported during the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 11. No deaths due to Influenza were reported in the past six weeks.

The report also included the school absenteeism data. School-illness absenteeism data did not change much over the last four reporting weeks. The data indicated 10.6 per cent of Saskatchewan students were absent due to illness in the week of Jan 15– 21, which slightly increased to 11.4 per cent in the most recent surveillance week.

As of Oct. 13, the Ministry of Health launched the community respiratory illness surveillance program (CRISP) report to integrate COVID-19 surveillance and reporting with provincial respiratory illness and surveillance reporting, including influenza.

The report standardizes the epidemiological information required for respiratory illness surveillance and risk management and will be issued bi-weekly during respiratory illness season.