New COVID-19 variant present 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 monthly respiratory illness surveillance report, COVID-19 has decreased in Saskatchewan.

The reporting period was from July 16 to Aug. 12.

The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 41 in the week ending August 5 to 36 in the most recent week. Test positivity is stable.

COVID-19 cases are in the 0-4 years (9.4 per cent), 20 to 64 years (40.6 per cent) and 65+ years (50.0 per cent) age groups.

The province had its first detections of EG.5, a descendant variant of the most commonly detected variant, XBB.1.9.2. To date, 21 clinical specimens tested positive for EG.5 and its sublineages, representing 21.4 per cent of sequenced specimens.

Throughout the province, COVID-19 wastewater viral load remained low.

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

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 4.2 per cent. For influenza, test positivity was 0.0 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 four weeks, two COVID-19 associated-deaths were reported. It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this period.

The report shows there are currently 15 hospital admissions and five ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased from 53 for the previous two weeks, to 27 for the most recent two weeks. COVID-19 ICU admissions have decreased from 10 for the previous four weeks to seven for the most recent four weeks.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients remains stable.

Ten COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in a high-risk setting in the past four weeks.

Of those aged five years and older, 2.6 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months. Except Regina, all areas of the province have less than 50 per cent of their population up-to-date for COVID-19 vaccines.

Only 21 per cent of individuals aged 12+ years have received a bivalent booster dose. Less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had more than one booster dose.

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.