Downward trend in COVID-19 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, there is a slight decrease in COVID-19 cases in the province.

COVID-19 lab-confirmed cases and test positivity decreased this week.

Because of the Holiday season there has been no reports since the reporting period from Dec. 4 to Dec. 17 and this report covers the dates Dec. 18 to 31.

Test positivity in Saskatchewan increased slightly this week to 6.7 per cent from 5.8 per cent last week.

For the two weeks of Dec. 18 to Dec. 31, 2022, there were 523 COVID-19 cases (71 were 0 to 19 years; 182 were 20 to 59 years; and 270 were 60 years and older).

Due to the holidays, the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan Waster Water teams didn’t provide data for the week Dec. 25 to31.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 9.2 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 6.0 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.

COVID-19 deaths have dropped from an average of 11 deaths per week in the previous three weeks to three reported deaths in the most recent week.

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

The report shows there are currently 92 hospital admissions and eight ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased from 103 to 92 admissions per week.

ICU admissions remain stable at eight admissions per week – most were 60+ years old. The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has decreased from 6.5 per cent to 5.7 per cent in the most recent week compared to the previous week.

BA.5 and its sublineages (denoted as BA.5*) are the most commonly detected variants at 93.9 per cent of current reporting period, followed by BA.2 (4.0 per cent) and BA.4 (1.4 per cent).

The first detections of Omicron sublineage XBB.1.5 occurred in this reporting period.

The province reported nine 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, all areas of the province have less than 50 per cent of their population up-to-date for COVID-19 vaccines. Less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had more than one booster dose (46 per cent).

Of those aged five years and older, 21 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months. Only 18 per cent of individuals aged 12+ years have received a bivalent booster dose.

On the influenza side cases are decreasing in the province. Influenza detections decreased from 122 to 69 positive lab test in this reporting period. Test positivity remains highest in the Far North East (La Ronge and area) at 15.8 per cent and North East (Melfort and area) at 25.0 per cent.

Influenza hospitalizations have decreased in this reporting period. However, influenza ICU admissions increased.

Deaths due to Influenza continue to occur with three deaths reported in the last two 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. Due to Christmas break schools were closed and no absenteeism data was available for the most recent reporting 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.