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, COVID-19 has decreased while Influenza is on the rise.

The reporting period was from Feb. 25 to March 9.The report was released on March 15.

The number of positive tests for COVID-19 decreased, with 96 in the week ending March 9.

In the most recent week, the proportions of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases were highest among those 65 and older (42 per cent), followed by individuals 20-64 years of age (40. 9 per cent).

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

Test positivity in North Central is currently 6.5 per cent for COVID-19 and 8.5 per cent for Influenza in North Central.

Wastewater data show lower COVID-19 levels in surveyed areas of the South East, Far North East, and Far North West of the province, while other areas, including Saskatoon and Regina,show moderately elevated levels.

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.

The report shows there are currently 27 hospital admissions and two ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased from 87 for the previous two weeks to 65 for the most recent two weeks, reflecting a 25 per cent decrease. COVID-19 ICU admissions remained stable at seven for the previous two weeks compared to eight for the most recent two weeks

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients decreased to 3.6 per cent for the current surveillance week.

There were four COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings compared to nine in the previous two-week period

As of March 9, 18.1 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 (14.6 per cent), Regina (14.3 per cent), and North East (10.4 per cent). For those 65 and older, Far North West (33.5 per cent) and Far North Central (20.1 per cent) have less than 40 per cent coverage, while Regina (58.6 per cent), Saskatoon (55.6 per cent), and Central West (51.2 per cent) exceed 50 per cent for this age group.

Influenza  has  become more prevalent in the province.

The number of positive tests for influenza have increased from 104 in the week ending Feb. 24 to 133 in the current surveillance week.

No influenza-associated deaths were reported in this two-week reporting period.

Influenza hospitalizations increased from 27 for the previous two weeks to 37 for the most recent two weeks. Influenza ICU admissions have remained stable, with four for the most recent two weeks.

As of March 9, 2024, 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 (64.3 per cent) and lowest in Far North Central (41.0 per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 17.7 per cent; the highest was in Saskatoon (21.4 per cent) and lowest was in Far North West (10.3 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 13 per cent in the week ending Feb.17, to 10 per cent in the week ending March 9. There was no data available for the week ending Feb. 24 as students were on family break 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.