Influenza on the rise and COVID-19 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 increased and COVID-19 has decreased.

According to the new report COVID-19 has decreased in Saskatchewan. The reporting period was from March 10 to March 23. The report was released on March 28.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 decreased this week compared to the week ending March 9. Test positivity for the most recent surveillance week was 5.1 per cent, a decrease from 5.8 per cent in the week ending March 9.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 decreased from 96 tests in the week ending March 9 to 81 tests in the week ending March 23.

In the most recent week, the proportions of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases were highest among those 65 and older (43.5 per cent), followed by individuals 20-64 years of age (36.2 per cent)

Test positivity in North Central is 0.0 per cent for COVID-19 and 3.9 per cent for Influenza.

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

The wastewater data from surveyed areas in the province indicate a declining pattern and predominantly low concentrations of COVID-19, except for Regina and Saskatoon, where levels are moderate.

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, no 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 21 hospital admissions and three ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased from 69 for the previous two weeks to 41 for the most recent two weeks, reflecting a 40.6 per cent decrease. COVID-19 ICU admissions decreased from eight for the previous two weeks to three for the most recent two weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients decreased to 2.7 per cent for the current surveillance week.

From March 10 to March 23, there were five COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings compared to four in the previous two-week period.

As of March 23,, 18.2 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 (14.7 per cent), Regina (14.4 per cent), and North East (10.4 per cent). For those 65 and older, Far North West (33.8 per cent) and Far North Central (20.1 per cent) have less than 40 per cent coverage, while Regina (58.7 per cent ), Saskatoon (55.9 per cent ), and Central West (51.1 per cent) exceed 50 per cent coverage for this age group.

Influenza has become more prevalent in the province.

The number of positive tests for influenza have increased from 133 in the week ending March 9 to 218 in the current surveillance week.

One influenza-associated death was reported in this two-week reporting period.

Influenza hospitalizations increased from 38 for the previous two weeks to 47 for the most recent two weeks. Influenza ICU admissions increased from four for the previous two weeks to 12 for the most recent two weeks.

As of March 23, 24.8 per cent of the Saskatchewan population received influenza vaccine this season. For those aged 65 years and older overall coverage was 59.3 per cent; the highest was in Regina (64.2 per cent) and lowest in Far North Central (41per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 17.7 per cent; the highest was in Saskatoon (21.5 per cent) and lowest was in Far North West (10.4 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 remained stable over the past three weeks from 10 per cent in the week ending March 9,to 10.1 per cent in the week ending March 23.

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.