Influenza and COVID-19 still declining 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, COVID-19 and influenza both continue to decrease in Saskatchewan.

According to the new report COVID-19 has decreased in Saskatchewan. The reporting period was from Dec. 31, 2023 to Jan. 13, 2024. The report was released on Jan. 19.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 has been decreasing for the past ten weeks from 496 in the week ending Nov. 11, 2023, to 173 in the week ending Jan. 13, 2024.

In the most recent week, the proportions of COVID-19 cases were equal among 20 to64 years and 65 years and above (46.3 per cent).

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

Most surveyed areas in the province have low SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater, except for the North West areas and Saskatoon, where elevated viral levels were detected.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 11.3 per cent. For influenza, test positivity was 1.1 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 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 44 hospital admissions and five ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased from 139 for the previous two weeks to 101 for the most recent two weeks, reflecting a 27.3 per cent drop. COVID-19 ICU admissions have decreased from 14 for the previous two weeks to six for the most recent two weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients decreased to 6.1 per cent for the most recent week.

There were seven COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings in the past two weeks compared to 29 in the previous two-week period.

As of Sept.18, 2023, 17.6 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 (13.9 per cent), Regina (13.7 per cent) and North East (10.3 per cent). For those 65 and older, Far North West (33.3 per cent) and Far North Central (20.1 per cent) have less than 40 per cent coverage, while Regina (57.2 per cent), Saskatoon (53.7 per cent), and Central West (50.7 per cent) exceed 50 per cent.

Influenza continues to decrease in the province.

The number of positive tests for influenza has been decreasing for the past six weeks from 867 in the week ending Dec. 9, 2023, to 89 in the week ending Jan.13, 2024.

There was one influenza-associated deaths reported in this reporting period. Influenza hospitalizations have decreased from 109 for the previous two weeks to 43 for the most recent two weeks, reflecting a 60.6 per cent decrease. Influenza ICU admissions have decreased from 14 for the previous two weeks to six for the most recent two weeks.

As of Jan.13, 2024, 23.8 per cent of the Saskatchewan population received the influenza vaccine this season. For those aged 65 years and older overall coverage was 58.2 per cent, the highest was in Regina (63.4 per cent) and the lowest in Far North Central (41 per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 16.7per, the highest was in Saskatoon (19.9 per cent) and lowest was in Far North West (9.7 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 decreased from 11.5 per cent in the week ending Dec. 23, 2023, to 10 per cent in the week ending Jan. 13, 2024.

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.