New variant detected in North Central according to province

(File photo/Jayda Taylor)

Saskatchewan health officials reported one B.1.617 (Indian) variant of COVID-19 has been found in North Central, which includes Prince Albert, on Friday.

There were four other instances of the variant found among the first reported cases in the province.

This was among 438 new lineage results reported Friday.

Of the 4,106 VOCs with lineages identified by whole genome sequencing in Saskatchewan, 4,021 are B. (UK), 71 are P.1 (Brazilian), nine are B.1.351 (SA), and 5 are B.1.617 (Indian).  

There are now 267 confirmed variants of concern (VOC) cases identified by the province in the North Central zone, as of May 13.

This was among 8,915 variants of concern identified by screening in Saskatchewan to date. Other regions with identified cases included Regina, Saskatoon, Far North East, Central West, Central East, South West, South Central and South East. There are currently 153 cases with area of residency pending.

There are now 53 VOCs identified in the adjacent North East.

Regina led the province with 4,324 identified VOCs.

There were also two deaths related to COVID-19 reported by the province on Friday.

One was in the South Central zone and in the 40 to 49 age group and one was in the Saskatoon zone in the 70 to 79 age group.

The number of deaths in Saskatchewan related to COVID-19 has risen to 515.

On Friday there were 17 new cases reported in North Central.

In the province there was a total of 277 new cases reported. Saskatoon led the province with 51 new cases reported.

North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 68 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 44 active cases and North Central 3 has 57 active cases.

There are currently 149 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the province. Of the 115 reported as receiving in patient care, there are five in North Central. Of the 34 people reported as being in intensive care, there is one in North Central.

The current seven-day average for new cases is 203, or 16.6 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 44,159 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,075 are considered active.

Another 188 recoveries were reported on Friday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 41,569.

Since the start of the pandemic, 9,699 cases are from the North area (4,157 North West, 4,033 North Central and 1,509 North East).

There were 4,085 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on May 13.

As of today there have been 816,227 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan.

There were 7,930 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 553,389.

There were 273 doses administered in the North Central Zone reported on Friday. Doses were also administered in the adjacent North East, North West, Far North Central, Far North East, Far North Central, Central West, Central East, South Central, South East, South West, Regina and Saskatoon.

There were 262 doses administered with zone of residence pending.

According to the province, 73 per cent of residents over the age of 40, 63 per cent of those 30 plus and 54 per cent of those 18 plus have received their first dose.

Effective Friday morning eligibility expanded to age 23 and older. It remains age 18 and older for the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. This applies to all immunization clinics: booked appointments, drive-thru/walk-ins, pharmacies and mobile clinics.

Vaccine-Related Thrombosis confirmed in Saskatchewan

The province of Saskatchewan has confirmed the first case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). The patient is a female aged 60-69 who had received the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine on April 11.

The province stated that she has received treatment and is recovering.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), there were 18 confirmed reports of VITT in Canada as of May 12, 2021. Saskatchewan’s confirmed case has been reported to PHAC for inclusion in the national statistics.

As of May 1, PHAC is reporting nearly 2,050,000 first doses of AstraZeneca and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD have been administered in Canada.Saskatchewan has administered approximately 72,000 AstraZeneca first doses to date. Internationally, reported rates of similar adverse events relative to AstraZenca at this time range from one per 26,500 (Norway), one in 50,000 (Netherlands) to one per 100,000 (UK) and one in 127,300 (Australia).

“At this time, public health is planning to offer the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to match the brand of the first dose received. However, national reviews of the safety and efficacy of interchanging the second dose brand are ongoing. As more evidence comes forward suggesting mixing brands is safe and based on the brand allocations we receive in Saskatchewan, public health recommendations on second doses may be updated,” the release stated

“Adverse events to any immunization can range from minor side effects (ie local pain, swelling at injection site) to more severe reactions. Minor side effects usually occur within a few hours of injection and resolve after short period of time. Immunizers know the signs of allergic reactions and are prepared to take immediate action. This is why all residents are asked to remain at the vaccination clinic for 10 to 15 minutes following their immunization.”

Individuals who experience a severe or unusual reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccination can report it by calling 811. Anyone experiencing a severe reaction such as difficulty breathing should call 911. Any adverse event that may be related to a vaccination is reported in order to continuously monitor the safety of vaccines.

Second dose vaccine booking available starting Monday to priority populations

As of Monday, May 17, anyone who is 85 and older or anyone who received their first dose before February 15 will be eligible to book their second doses. Individuals diagnosed with or being treated for cancer and those who have received solid organ transplants will receive a letter of eligibility in the mail that will allow them to access a second dose.

For all other residents, your eligibility to book for second doses will be announced according to the age-based and priority sequencing of first doses.

According to the province the SHA online patient booking system will be able to make booked clinic appointments for second doses starting at 8am, Tuesday, May 18.

Starting Monday, May 17, second dose vaccinations will be available at participating pharmacies across the province, through the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) drive-thru and walk-in clinics as well as through clinics operated by Indigenous Services Canada and the Northern Inter-tribal Health Authority (NITHA).

Be ready by knowing the date you received your first vaccine. If you do not know the date or have misplaced the wallet card provided at the time of your first dose, call 1-833-SaskVax (1-833-727-5829) and they can provide you with that date, or check your Immunization History on your MySaskHealthRecord account.

During your second dose appointment, the clinic or pharmacy will validate the timing and brand of your first dose to ensure you are receiving your second dose within the recommended timeframe. The type of vaccine available at each location will be advertised to ensure that you are receiving the same vaccine brand for your second dose.

At this time, public health is planning to offer your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to match the brand of your first dose. National reviews of the safety and efficacy of interchanging the second dose brand are on-going and the provincial policy on maintaining the same brand for the second dose may be updated following this review.