Younger people are more affected by COVID-19 and variants of concern, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer said on Thursday.
Dr. Saqib Shahab said that the bulk of cases in Saskatchewan and particularly Regina continue to be young people between the ages of 18 and 49.
“These are the people who are out and about working public-facing jobs,” Shahab said.
He added that variants of concern are also impacting younger people.
“When you have something that’s more transmissible, you just see very quick transmission from a workplace into a household and then into school and other workplaces if other people in the household are working in other settings and that’s what we are trying to get ahead of,” Shahab explained.
He added that the B.1.7.7 variant is 70 per cent more transmissible and 30 per cent more virulent, as well.
Shahab said young people have yet to be vaccinated and said individuals need to practice extreme caution.
“Even young, healthy people can get seriously ill and unfortunately end up in ICU or worse,” Shahab said.
According to Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone, of the 35 ICU admissions in the last month in Regina, only one patient has been over the age of 70, and half of the last 10 ICU admissions were patients under the age of 40.
According to provincial testing data, the weekly March 15-21 positive rate for youth between the ages of 0 and 19 was 8.3 per cent. In Regina alone, the positive rate was 11.3 per cent for youth.
Livingstone said younger people tend to be healthier than older people and it’s common for them to stay in the ICU longer compared to older more vulnerable patients who don’t make it.
He added that the SHA has expanded ICU capacity with an extra 12 beds in Regina and have identified other areas for expansion as they expect to see more cases over the next few weeks.