Influenza continues to increase in Saskatchewan 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 has decreased in Saskatchewan while Influenza continues to be on the rise.

The reporting period was from Nov. 19 to Dec. 2. The report was released on Dec. 8.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 decreased from 395 in the week ending November 25 to 308 in the most recent week. COVID-19 cases were highest in the 20-64 years age group (46.7 per cent), followed by 65 and above (40.1 per cent).

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

Current wastewater-based surveillance data shows that SARS-CoV-2 levels in many of the surveyed areas of the province remain elevated, continuing the trend observed in recent weeks.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 8 per cent. For influenza, test positivity was 28.7 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, three deaths 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 73 hospital admissions and five ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 280 for the previous two weeks to 174 for the most recent two weeks. COVID-19 ICU admissions dropped from 25 for the previous two weeks to 11 for the most recent two weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased to 8.6 per cent for the most recent week.

There were 22 COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings in the past two weeks compared to29 in the previous two-week period.

Of those aged six months and older, 16.1 per cent have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine on or after September 18. For those aged six months to 64 years, all the zones except Saskatoon (12.5 per cent) and Regina (12.3 per cent) have less than 10 per cent vaccination coverage. For those 65 years and older, Far North West (31.2 per cent), Far North Central (13.2 per cent), Far North East (39. per cent), and North West (39.8 per cent) have less than 40% coverage. All other zones have between 40 per cent and 50 per cent coverage except Regina (52.9 per cent).

Influenza continues to become more prevalent in the province.

There was an increase in test positivity reported across the Far North Central, North West, Central, Regina and the South. Seven locations (Far North West, Far North Central, Far North East, Central East, Regina, South Central and South East) reported test positivity higher than the provincial average of 32.8 per cent.

There were five influenza-associated deaths reported in this reporting period. Influenza hospitalizations have decreased marginally from 280 the previous two weeks to 271 for the most recent two weeks. Influenza ICU admissions remained stable at 39 for the previous two weeks and 38 for the most recent two weeks

As of December 2, 21.2 per cent of the Saskatchewan population received influenza vaccine this season. For those aged 65 years and older overall coverage was 54.5 per cent, the highest was in Regina (59.1 per cent) and lowest in Far North Central (26.4 per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 14.3 per cent; the highest was in Saskatoon (16.9 per cent) and lowest was in Far North Central (7.4 per cent).

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

The report also included the school absenteeism data. School-absenteeism for the week ending Dec. 2, increased to 15.5 per cent from 13.7 per cent the previous week.

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.