Weekly COVID-19 reports shows increase in hospitalizations

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

The weekly COVID-19 integrated epidemiological (EPI) report showed an increase in hospitalizations and 20 deaths related to COVID-19 reported between March 20 to March 26.

There were 20 deaths reported over this time, a decrease of 13 over the previous week.

During this time span, there were no deaths reported in North Central.

There were seven deaths reported in Saskatoon, three in the Central East zone, two in the adjacent North East and South Central zones and one each in the adjacent North West, South East, Regina, Central West and Far North West zones.

Of this week’s newly reported deaths, 16 occurred within the week. The other four deaths occurred in previous weeks (February 21 to March 19, 2022), but were reported this week.

Of these there were nine in the 80 or older groups, seven in the 70 to 79 age group, three in the 60 to 69 age group and one in the 40 to 59 age group, 13 deaths were in males and seven deaths were females.

The report shows 324 COVID-19 hospitalizations, an increase of 19 from last week. There were 21 individuals reported in the ICU, an increase of two from the previous week.

Of these 134 were COVID-19 related illness, 120 were incidental COVID-19 infections and 20 patients were under investigation.

The province also reported 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Central from March 20 to March 26.

This was among 1,196 total cases confirmed in the province. These are only lab confirmed cases and not rapid antigen test confirmed cases.

The 895 new cases were confirmed reflecting about 0.7 laboratory-confirmed cases per 1,000 population.

The Saskatoon Zone led the province with 249 new cases.

The highest proportion of new cases for the week was in the North West zone (2.4 per 1,000 population). Of the zones with confirmed cases, the lowest was in the North Central zone (0.6 per 1,000 population).

The proportion of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 1.0 per 1,000 population, 0.3 per 1,000 population higher than last week.

The province warns that rates should be interpreted with caution because they do not include cases detected by home rapid-antigen test kits.

There were 400 variants of concern (VOCs) reported during the week of March 20 to March 26 compared to 147 in the previous report.

Of the total VOCs reported in the past two weeks, 100% were the Omicron VOCs.

As well, 15.5 per cent of Omicron VOC were of sublineage BA.2 which was less than previous week.

The province also reported 10 new outbreaks in Long Term Care, care homes and personal care homes. There were two new outbreaks reported in the North Central zone in the reporting period.

As of March 26, of the population five years and older,85.6 per cent received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine and 80.6 per cent completed a series.

Among the population 18 years and older, 51.3 per cent had received at least one booster vaccination.

Province launched third dose vaccination campaign

The Government of Saskatchewan has launched the ‘It Matters’ campaign to remind all residents age 12 and older that if it’s been five months or more since your second COVID-19 vaccination shot, it’s time to get that third dose.

“Vaccination is a necessary part of Living with COVID.  Omicron transmission continues in all regions of the province and immunity from the vaccine decreases over time.  The third dose provides optimal protection from the current COVID-19 variant.  Even if you have had COVID-19, you should get your third dose as the immunity we get from vaccination is better than that which develops from having COVID-19,” the release stated.

The four week campaign includes digital, print, and radio as well as posters and billboards.  While it is primarily targeting those fifty and older who have been at elevated risk for severe outcomes, transmission is occurring in all age groups.