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Saskatchewan’s death toll at 409; 66 more coronavirus variant cases

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 case numbers in Regina increasing unlike rest of Saskatchewan' COVID-19 case numbers in Regina increasing unlike rest of Saskatchewan
WATCH: Unlike the rest of Saskatchewan, COVID-19 case numbers are going up in Regina, said chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shabab on Tuesday. He added that this is likely due to the spread of coronavirus variants. "The trend in Regina is opposite to the rest of Saskatchewan," said the province's top doctor – Mar 16, 2021

Saskatchewan added two coronavirus-related deaths for a total of 409, the provincial government said on Tuesday.

One of the recently deceased who tested positive for COVID-19 was reported in their 30s in the Regina zone while the other was in the 80-plus age group and in far north west, according to a press release.

Read more: Staff party in a North Battleford long-term care facility sparks concerns

In addition to the 210 presumptive variants of concern (VoC) cases, government officials said on Tuesday there are 66 new confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 which are reported in the Saskatoon (1), central east (1), Regina (61), south central (1) and south east (2) zones.

There is now a total of 136 confirmed VoC cases in Saskatchewan, with the Regina zone accounting for 90 per cent or 122, officials said.

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Read more: SHA expands age criteria for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine site in Regina

According to the government on Tuesday, there were 156 new COVID-19 cases with the overall infection total in Saskatchewan now at 30,883. The new seven-day average of daily cases is up from 132 on Monday to 138.

The province’s hospitals are currently providing care for 138 patients with COVID-19 — 107 are receiving inpatient care and 31 are in intensive care.

Active cases, which are total cases minus recoveries and deaths, now sit at 1,292 in Saskatchewan, according to the press release. This is the lowest number of active cases since Nov. 9, 2020, when there were 1,289.

The total number of people who have recovered from the virus has grown to a total of 29,182 following 161 more recoveries, provincial health officials said.

According to the press release, 2,461 COVID-19 tests were performed on Monday. To date, 615,067 tests have been carried out in the province.

A total of 108,669 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan, provincial government officials said.

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Premier Scott Moe announced on Tuesday that they were informed by federal officials that the Moderna vaccine shipment to Canada scheduled for next week is going to be cut by around 70 per cent. Those doses, he added, will be delivered during the following week.

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“This will result in a one-week delay to Saskatchewan of about 23,000 doses. This is problematic for us in our delivery of these vaccines since our appointment system is built on the very delivery schedule that we receive from the federal government,” he said.

“Our vaccine delivery team is, as we speak, working through the impact of what this delay means and they’ll make every effort to keep the changes to existing appointments to a very minimum but there will be some appointments that will likely need to be postponed a few days as a result of this delay in Moderna shipments.”

Read more: AstraZeneca vaccine can now be used on seniors in Canada, NACI says

Also announced on Tuesday was Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommending that AstraZeneca’s vaccine be used on seniors.

“As of this morning, the federal government updated its guidance on the AstraZeneca vaccine by removing the age restriction that was in place for that particular vaccine. Our Saskatchewan health officials are now reviewing how this will affect Saskatchewan’s deployment of future batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Moe said.

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“But for now, we’re going to continue using the current batch of 15,500 vaccines at the drive-thru clinic right here in Regina and that Regina drive-thru clinic is currently open to anyone ages 60 to 64 on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

During a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said no firm decision had been made concerning the age-based criteria for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We’re going to go through … the 60 to 64 group and we did get an uptick, as you know, and got busier today when we did expand that age group. So we’re going to focus on that age group over the next couple of days to see where the vaccine levels go with respect to the drive-thru, because they are, as you know, seeing lots of patients,” Livingstone said.

“And then a decision would be made to open it up to a broader age group later in the week if, in fact, we’re not seeing the type of uptake we want to at the drive-thru but we do have time to make that pivot and we will later in the week.”

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.

For full COVID-19 coverage, visit the Global News coronavirus web page.

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