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

The reporting period was from Nov. 5 to 18. The report was released on Nov. 24.

The number of positive COVID-19 tests decreased from 496 in the week ending November 11 to 426 in the current week. Test positivity for the most recent surveillance week was 13.9 per cent compared to 15.5 per cent for the preceding week

COVID-19 cases were highest in the 65+ years age group (43.8 per cent), followed by the 20 to 64 group (42.6 per cent)

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

Based on current wastewater surveillance data, SARS-CoV-2 signals across surveyed areas mostly showed sustained levels of elevated indicators when compared to recent historical measures.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 8.6 per cent. For influenza, test positivity was 50.4 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, four 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 97 hospital admissions and four ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 244 for the previous two weeks to 237 during the most recent two weeks. COVID-19 ICU admissions have remained stable at 21 for the previous two weeks to 20 for the most recent two weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased to 7.7% for the most recent week.

There were 29 COVID-19 outbreaks reported in high-risk settings in the past two weeks compared to 40 in the previous two-week period.

Of those aged six months and older, 14.7 per cent have received a COVID-19 vaccine on or after September 18. For those under age 65 years, all the zones except Saskatoon (11.0 per cent) and Regina (11.2 per cent) have less than 10% coverage. For those 65 years and older, Far North West (28 per cent), Far North Central (10.4 per cent), Far North East (35.1 per cent), North West (37.7 per cent), and South East (38.8 per cent) have less than 40 per cent coverage. All other zones have above 40 per cent but less than 50 per cent coverage

Influenza continues to become more prevalent in the province.

Influenza cases increased over the past four weeks from 42 to 594 positive lab detections with a test positivity of 31 per cent. An upsurge in the test positivity was reported in all locations except Far North Central. Influenza test positivity has surpassed the 2% threshold since the week ending October 28, indicating the start of the influenza season. Influenza Type A accounted for 99 per cent of the positive detections this season.

There was an increase in test positivity reported across the province with higher activity in the North. Far North East reported the highest increase in the test positivity (increased by 36.4 per cent) and the lowest was in the North East (increased by 7.8 per cent) compared to the previous two weeks. Five locations (Far North West, Far North East, North Central, North East, and Saskatoon) reported test positivity higher than the provincial average of 31.0 per cent.

There were five influenza-associated deaths reported in this reporting period. Influenza hospitalizations have increased from 90 for the previous two weeks to 263 for the most recent two weeks. Influenza ICU admissions have increased significantly from eight for the previous two weeks to 38 for the most recent two weeks.

As of Nov. 18, 18.9 per cent of the Saskatchewan population received influenza vaccine this season. For those aged 65 years and older overall coverage was 50.6 per cent, the highest was in Regina (55.2 per cent) and lowest in Far North Central (24.3 per cent). For those aged less than 65 years the overall coverage was 12.4 per cent; the highest was in Saskatoon (14.4 per cent) and lowest were in Far North West and Far North Central (6.8 per cent for both)

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 November 18, 2023, decreased to 12.3 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.