Total coronavirus variant of concern cases jump from 9 to 44 in Saskatchewan

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s top doctor says all COVID-19 test samples to be screened for variants of concern'
Saskatchewan’s top doctor says all COVID-19 test samples to be screened for variants of concern
WATCH: Saskatchewan's chief medical officer of health Dr. Saqib Shahab on Tuesday during a COVID-19 update spoke about variants of concern saying initial screening on samples was only done under some circumstances, but that all will be screened moving forward – Mar 9, 2021

The provincial government says a total of 44 COVID-19 variant cases have been confirmed in Saskatchewan.

The Roy Romanow Provincial Lab (RRPL) completed an initial variant survey of confirmed cases from Jan. 26 to Feb. 27. Of the 190 cases sequenced, 35 were confirmed variants, including 28 in the Regina zone.

Officials said the in-province whole genome sequencing began on March 1 and focused on COVID-19 positive results linked to international travel, declared outbreaks and cases of unexpected severe illness, as well as a random sampling of confirmed cases.

“The confirmation of 44 variant of concern cases present over the span of two months is an indication that variants of concern, particularly B.1.1.7 initially detected in the (United Kingdom), are present in Saskatchewan and community transmission has been occurring over the last two months,” read a government statement on Tuesday.

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“This also indicates that while variant transmission has been occurring over the last two months, Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 data, including active cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths, have continued to decline.

“Saskatchewan will continue to monitor for variants through targeted and randomized surveys of positive COVID-19 cases.”

There have now been six confirmed cases of the variant B.1.351, which was first discovered in South Africa, with five in the north central zone and one in south central.

The province also reached another tragic milestone, hitting 400 total coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. The recently deceased north west zone resident who tested positive for COVID-19 was reported in their 50s, according to the government.

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The government said Tuesday there were 113 new cases, with the overall infection total in Saskatchewan now at 29,918. The new seven-day average of daily cases is down from 144 to 141, day over day.

The province’s hospitals are currently providing care for 139 patients with COVID-19 — 114 are receiving inpatient care and 25 are in intensive care.

Active cases, which are total cases minus recoveries and deaths, now sit at 1,414 in Saskatchewan, according to the press release.

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The number of people who have recovered from the virus has grown to a total of 28,104 following 160 more recoveries, provincial health officials said.

According to the press release, 1,874 COVID-19 tests were performed on Monday. To date, 597,743 tests have been carried out in the province.

A total of 28,025 second doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan, provincial government officials said.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Moe reflects on one-year with COVID-19, asks residents to ‘take the shot’'
Saskatchewan Premier Moe reflects on one-year with COVID-19, asks residents to ‘take the shot’

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

Red more COVID-19 coverage from Global News.

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