COVID-19 on the rise, influenza on the decline 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, influenza has decreased while COVID-19 is on the rise.

According to the new report COVID-19 has decreased in Saskatchewan. The reporting period was from Jan. 29 to Feb. 10 .The report was released on Feb. 16.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 increased, with 152 lab detections in the week ending Feb. 10, 2024.

In the most recent week, the proportions of COVID-19 cases were highest among individuals 20-64 years of age (40.1 per cent), followed by those 65 and older (38.7 per cent).

In July 2023 the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) took over wastewater data from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina.

Current wastewater analysis indicates an upward trend in COVID-19 levels across multiple surveyed areas of the province, with the exception of the South East area where viral levels have remained low over recent weeks.

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 last two weeks, one death associated with COVID-19 were reported. It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this period.

The report shows there are currently 29 hospital admissions and six ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased from 87 for the previous two weeks to 58 for the most recent two weeks, reflecting a 33.3 per cent drop. COVID-19 ICU admissions have remained stable for the past four weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients decreased to 4.6 per cent for the most recent week.

There were eight COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings compared to four in the previous two-week period

As of Feb.10, 17.9 per cent of those aged six months and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine dose. Vaccination coverage is generally below 10 per cent for ages six months to 64 years, except in Saskatoon (14.3 per cent), Regina (14.1 per cent), and North East (10.4 per cent). For those 65 and older, Far North West (33.2 per cent) and Far North Central (20.1 per cent) have less than 40 per cent coverage, while Regina (58.1 per cent), Saskatoon (54.7 per cent), and Central West (51.0 per cent) exceed 50 per cent.

Influenza has become less prevalent in the province.

The number of positive tests for influenza have decreased from 114 in the week ending February 3, 2024, to 79 in the current surveillance week.

No influenza-associated deaths were reported in this two-week reporting period.

Influenza hospitalizations have increased from 10 for the previous two weeks to 19 for the most recent two weeks. Influenza ICU admissions have remained stable at 2 for the previous two weeks and 1 for the most recent two weeks.

As of Feb. 10, 24.6 per cent of the Saskatchewan population received influenza vaccine this season. For those aged 65 years and older overall coverage was 59.1 per cent;the highest was in Regina (64.1 per cent) and lowest in Far North Central (41.0 per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 17.4 per cent; the highest was in Saskatoon (21.0 per cent) and lowest was in Far North West (10.2 per cent)

Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines were available in Saskatchewan effective Oct. 10, 2023.

The report also included the school absenteeism data. School absenteeism increased from 9.8 per cent in the week ending Feb. 3, to 12.8 per cent in the week ending Feb. 10.

As of Oct. 13, 2022 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.