COVID-19 remains stable 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.

There was a slight increase in COVID-19 activity in Saskatchewan, according to the province’s bi-weekly respiratory illness surveillance report.

Test positivity is highest in the Kindersley, Weyburn/Estevan and La Ronge areas The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 increased from 217 in the week Feb. 26 to March 4 to 242 in the most recent week. The reporting period ran from March 12 to March 25.

COVID-19 test positivity increased from 7.1 per cent to 9.4 per cent. Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years and 65+ age groups.

For the two weeks of March 12 to 25 there were 388 COVID-19 cases (43 were 0 to 19 years; 128 were 20 to 59 years; and 217 were 60 years and older).

Both Regina and Swift Current COVID-19 viral load remained the same at moderate-high. However, the trajectory is unchanged in Regina and decreasing in Swift Current. This decrease occurred in all areas of the province, where data is available, except Saskatoon and North West.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 5.4 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 2.9 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, Mar 12 to Mar 25, there have been 18 deaths among COVD-19 cases, three in 20 to 59 years age-group and 15 in the 60 years or older group. This number is unchanged from the previous two weeks.

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

The report shows there are currently 88 hospital admissions and eight ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased from 151 for the previous two weeks, to 166 for the most recent two weeks. COVID-19 ICU admissions have decreased from 15 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 5.9 per cent.

XBB.1.5 and its sublineages (denoted as XBB.1.5*) are the most commonly detected variants (59.1 per cent of current reporting period), followed by BQ.1.1* (25.8 per cent) and BQ.1* (4.6 per cent).

The province reported six 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, 19 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 per cent of their population up-to-date for COVID-19 vaccines. Only 21% 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.

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 1.0 per cent over the past four weeks. The emergence of type B activity is responsible for an increase in influenza test positivity.

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 12 to 25, 2023.

One death due to Influenza was reported in the past six 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 10.2 per cent of Saskatchewan students were absent due to illness in the week of Feb. 26 to March 4, and 11.6 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.