SHA modifies contact tracing methods because of surge in cases

(File photo/Jayda Taylor)

Contract tracing will now be an individual responsibility, according to a press release sent out by the SHA on Friday.

The change means COVID positive individuals must notify their own close contacts of a positive case result, except in specific healthcare settings.

“Positive COVID-19 cases are surging, as well as the number of close contacts being identified by cases. This surge combined with limited public health resources has resulted in an inability to provide timely notification to individuals who may have been exposed and are at risk,” the SHA stated in a media release.

SHA Public Health officials will still notify individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and provide isolation education. They will also educate individuals on who is a close contact on what information they need to provide to those close contacts.

The SHA will continue to identify persons testing positive in healthcare settings with vulnerable populations, including long term care and other congregate living settings, so that outbreak prevention and control measures can be put into action quickly.

The release stated that the SHA and Ministry of Health are working together to review the protocols around school case management and contact tracing.

“Supporting public health teams by personally notifying close contacts is a valuable action people can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19, in conjunction with vaccination.”

The SHA also encourages all residents to download the COVID-19 Alert app. The Health Canada COVID Alert app is available to all Saskatchewan residents at no cost in the Apple and Google Play app store

“The SHA is strongly encouraging all Saskatchewan residents 12 years of age and older to be immunized with both doses,” the press release reads. “COVID -19 variants are continuing to develop and spread, and are more transmissible than the initial COVID-19 virus. Vaccines are proving to be effective in protecting individuals from serious illness against these variants, and high vaccination rates in our province will help curb the spread.”

Province reports most cases since December with 418

Saskatchewan health officials reported two new deaths in the adjacent North East zone on Friday, one death was in the 60 to 69 age group and one in the 80 plus age group.

There have now been 610 deaths related to COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

There were also 47 new cases of COVID-19 reported in North Central on Friday. This was among a total of 418 cases reported in the province, the highest single day total since Dec. 6, 2020.

Saskatoon led the province with 131 new cases.

Of the 55,396 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,755 are considered active.

North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 208 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 154 active cases and North Central 3 has 45 active cases.

One case with pending residence information and three cases tested out of province were also added to North Central on Friday.

According to the province, 34.9 per cent of new cases are in patients in their 20s and 30s and about 13.2 per cent of new cases were fully vaccinated.

There are currently 135 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the province, 95 of which are not fully vaccinated. There are currently 112 patients receiving in patient care and 23 in intensive care. North Central has 25 patients in hospital.

The current seven-day average for new cases is 302, or 25.1 cases per 100,000 population.

Another 152 recoveries were reported on Friday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 52,031.

Since the start of the pandemic, 12,556 cases are from the North area (5,303 North West, 5,317 North Central and 1,936 North East).

There were 3,293 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Sunday. As of Sept. 3, there have been 1,034,171 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan.

There were 2,716 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 1,483,812.

There were 378 doses administered in the North Central Zone reported on Thursday. Doses were also administered in the adjacent North East, North West, Far North East, Far North West, Central West, Central East, South West, South East, South Central, Regina and Saskatoon.

According to the province 46,330 people in North Central are fully vaccinated.

668 total variants of concern identified in North Central

There are 668 confirmed variants of concern (VOC) cases identified by the province in the North Central zone as of Sept. 3.

This was among 12,459 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 77 cases with area of residency pending.

There are 87 variants identified in the adjacent North East zone.

Regina led the province with 4,835 identified VOCs.

Of the 9,697 VOCs with lineages identified by whole genome sequencing in Saskatchewan, 7,121 are Alpha (B.1.1.7), 10 are Beta (B.1.351), 471 are Gamma (P.1) and 2,095 are Delta (B.1.617.2).