Province to return to monthly respiratory illness reporting

Graphic courtesy HFCM Communicatie, via Wikimedia This is a representation of what the Covid-19 virus would look like under a powerful microscope.

The province is transitioning back to monthly reports on the COVID-19 and respiratory illness situation.

According to a Thursday notice, CRISP reports will be issued monthly during the summer as the likeliness of getting respiratory illnesses declines. They will return to regular bi-weekly CRISP reporting in the fall.

According to the last bi-weekly respiratory illness surveillance report, COVID-19 cases have decreased in Saskatchewan although test positivity remains unchanged. COVID-19 activity has decreased from 208 positive laboratory cases a week to 191 positive laboratory cases for the recent surveillance week. Test positivity is stable at 10.5 per cent.

The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 243 in the week of March 26 – April 1 to 191 in the most recent week. Test positivity remained stable at 10.5 per cent.

Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years (28.1 per cent) and 65+ years (61.3 per cent) age groups. The reporting period was from April 9 to April 22.

For the two weeks of March 26 to April 8, 2023, there were 359 COVID-19 cases (48 were 0 to 19 years; 123 were 20 to 59 years; and 188 were 60 years and older.

Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert wastewater viral load remained stable as high, moderate, and low respectively, whereas North Battleford decreased from moderate to low. The trajectory is increasing in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and Swift Current in the current week compared to the previous week.

Test positivity for COVID-19 in the North Central region was 5.4 per cent. For influenza test positivity was 3.7 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.

Reported COVID-19 deaths decreased to four in the previous two weeks. It is not known how many deaths occurred in North Central over this period.

The report shows there are currently 66 hospital admissions and six ICU admissions.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased from 171 for the previous two weeks, to 138 for the most recent two weeks. ICU admissions have increased from 11 for the previous two weeks, to 16 for the most recent two weeks. The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients remain stable at 5.6 per cent.

XBB.1.5 and its sublineages (denoted as XBB.1.5*) are the most commonly detected variants (69.7 per cent of current reporting period), followed by BQ.1.1* (17.0 per cent) and BQ.1* (4.4 per cent).

The province reported five new outbreaks in Long Term Care, care homes and personal care homes. Locations of the outbreaks are no longer reported. Of those aged five years and older, 12 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months. With the exception of Regina, all areas of the province have less than 50 per cent of their population up-to-date1 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 (47 per cent).

On the influenza side cases are decreasing in the province influenza activity was low in the past four weeks with sporadic cases distributed in communities throughout the province. Three-quarters of the cases were type B influenza (9 of 12 cases) which generally has a mild clinical manifestation.

Influenza test positivity fluctuated between 0.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent over the past four weeks. The emergence of type B activity is responsible for an increase in influenza test positivity. Influenza cases affected the preschool (two cases), school age (four cases), working-aged people 20-64
years (six cases) in the past week. No influenza outbreaks in high-risk settings were reported in the past month. There were two influenza hospitalization and one influenza ICU admission reported during the weeks of April 9 to April 22. One death due to Influenza was reported in the past four weeks.

The report also included the school absenteeism data. Though there was no school-absenteeism data for the week of April 9-15 due to Spring Break, school-absenteeism in the recent three weeks appeared to be stable at 9.9 per cent in the most recent
reporting 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.