COVID-19 decreasing in province according to 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.

According to the province’s bi-weekly respiratory illness surveillance report, COVID-19 has decreased in Saskatchewan.

The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 222 in the week March 12 to 18 to 170 in the most recent week. Test positivity decreased from 8.8 per cent to 8.2 per cent. Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years (37.9 per cent) and 65+ years (51 per cent) age groups.

The reporting period was from March 26 to April 8.

COVID-19 activity has decreased from approximately 240 cases a week to 170 cases. There is an 8.2 per cent test positivity in the most recent surveillance week.

For the two weeks of March 26 to April 8, 2023, there were 359 COVID-19 cases (48 were 0 to 19 years; 123 were 20 to 59 years; and 188 were 60 years and older).

Regina wastewater viral load increased from moderate-high to high, whereas in Saskatoon and Swift Current, it decreased from high to moderate and moderate-high, respectively. The trajectory is decreasing in Saskatoon, North Battleford, Prince Albert and Swift Current in the current week compared to the previous week.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 29 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 0.0 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.

Reported COVID-19 deaths have dropped in half, from 20 in the previous two weeks to 10 in the most recent two weeks.

It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this period.

The report shows there are currently 74 hospital admissions and four ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased from 180 for the previous two weeks, to 150 for the most recent two weeks. ICU admissions have decreased from 12 for the previous two weeks, to 10 for the most recent two weeks. The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients remain stable at 5.7 per cent (from 5.9 per cent in the preceding week).

XBB.1.5 and its sublineages (denoted as XBB.1.5*) are the most commonly detected variants (69.7 per cent of current reporting period), followed by BQ.1.1* (17.0 per cent) and BQ.1* (4.4 per cent).

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

Of those aged five years and older, 17 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-date for COVID-19 vaccines. Only 21 per cent of individuals aged 12+ years have received a bivalent booster dose. Less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had more than one booster dose (47 per cent).

On the influenza side cases are decreasing in the province. Influenza activity was low in the past four weeks with sporadic cases distributed in communities throughout the province. About half the cases were type B influenza, which generally has a mild clinical manifestation.

Influenza test positivity fluctuated between 0.4 per cent and 1% over the past four weeks. The emergence of type B activity is responsible for an increase in influenza test positivity. Influenza cases affected the preschool (one case), school age (one case), working-aged people 20 to 64 years (three cases) and 65 years and older (one case) in the past week. No influenza outbreaks in high-risk settings were reported in the past month. There was one influenza hospitalization and one influenza ICU admission reported during the weeks of March 26 to April 08, 2023. One death due to Influenza was reported in the past four weeks.

The report also included the school absenteeism data. School absenteeism is the proportion of scheduled children who were absent from class due to illness. School-illness absenteeism remained stable over the last four reporting weeks. The data indicated that 9.9 per cent of Saskatchewan students were absent due to illness in the week of April 2 to 8, and 12.3 per cent in the most week of March 26 to April 1. The most common cause was the common cold.

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.