COVID-19 continues to decrease in Saskatchewan according to report

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

According to the province’s bi-weekly respiratory illness surveillance report there is a slight decrease of COVID-19 cases in the province.

The reporting period was from Nov. 6 to Nov. 19.

For the two weeks of Nov. 6 to Nov. 19 there were 901 COVID-19 cases (100 were 0 to 19 years; 354 were 20 to 59 years; and 447 were 60 years and older).

Test positivity in Saskatchewan has decreased to 7.2 per cent. The highest COVID-19 test positivity of 10.9 per cent was in the South East (Weyburn/Estevan and area). Saskatoon had the highest viral load in wastewater but the trajectory is decreasing and this decrease occurred in all areas of the province.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 7.5 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 35.6 per cent.

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, Nov. 6 to 19, there have been 25 deaths in COVD-19 cases, two in the 20 to 59 age group, and 23 in the 60 years or older group.

It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this time period. The majority of the deaths were in the 60 plus age group according to the report.

The report shows there are currently 140 hospital admissions and 12 ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased since October 2022. ICU admissions have remained stable with 12 admissions per week for the last four weeks – the majority were 60+ years old.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients remains unchanged at around 11 per cent.

BA.5 is the most commonly detected variant of concern (94.1 per cent). The BA.5 sublineages BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are dominant.

The province reported 10 new outbreaks in Long Term Care, care homes and personal care homes. Locations of the outbreaks are no longer reported.

With the exception of Regina and Saskatoon, all areas of the province have less than 50 per cent of their population up-to-date for COVID-19 vaccines and less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had an additional booster dose (44 per cent).

Of those five and older, 20 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months. Only 15 per cent of individualsaged 12+ years have received a bivalent booster dose.

On the influenza side cases are increasing in the province. Influenza increased from 68 cases in late October to 635 in the current week. Test positivity remains over 30 per cent (now 34.2 per cent). North East (Melfort and area) has the highest influenza test positivity and 48 per cent of influenza cases are aged 0 – 19 years (302/631).

This report includes the first influenza-related death of the 2022/23 respiratory virus season in Saskatchewan,occurring in the 50 years and over age group

Earlier this week the province promised school absenteeism data. According to the report school absenteeism indicator data is not yet available, due to a data quality issue. Student records of “late” were recorded as “absent” which incorrectly inflated the numbers. The absenteeism indicator information will be included in the report once rectified.

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.