Saskatchewan officials’ said COVID-19 activity is increasing in the province following an epidemiology report released on Thursday which shows there have been 1,524 new cases and 27 deaths between July 17 and Aug. 13.
Test positivity, outbreaks, hospital and ICU admissions have all increased according to the report.
Dr. Saqib Shahab says with kids heading back to class and cold weather on the way, the situation could get worse.
“ICU and hospitals are trending up slowly, all of that is suggesting a slight upward trend that is continuing which means we need to be more conscious of what we need to do as individuals,” he said.
He said that vaccines are still the best protection for individuals and for the health-care system.
Currently, less than half of those eligible have one booster and only 43 per cent of school-age children have two doses, he added.
“Compared to the previous reporting period, test positivity increased from 4.0 to 7.4 per cent,” the report states. “Central East and Saskatoon have the highest test positivity.”
Health officials stated visits to emergency departments for respiratory-like symptoms have increased in Regina and in the south east zones.
“Reported outbreaks in high-risk settings due to COVID-19 have increased,” the epidemiology report states. “Both COVID-19 hospital admissions and ICU admissions have increased.”
Reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the province continue to average seven per week, officials say.
Shahab isn’t the only one calling for greater booster uptake, Saskatchewan nurses say.
“I speak with members from across the province every day, particularly people in the E.R., and it’s a nightmare,” said Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses.
She added that at the end of last year there were 600 nursing vacancies and, right now, there are close to 700 vacant nursing positions in the province as stress and burnout take their toll.
She added that at the end of last year there were 600 nursing vacancies and right now there are close to 700 vacant nursing positions in the province as stress, burnout and depression take their toll.
She calls the shortage critical and asks the public to stay up to date with their vaccines and as aware as possible of how the pandemic is unfolding.
Omicron is the dominating variant detected in Saskatchewan with instances having increased from 3.6 per cent during the week of June 19-25 to more than 65 per cent of the week of June 26-July 16. Currently, Omicron accounted for more than 90 per cent of detections.
More than 22 million rapid antigen test kits have been distributed in Saskatchewan as of Aug. 12.
“With approximately 45 per cent of the population receiving at least three doses, more Saskatchewan residents need to receive their COVID-19 booster doses,” officials report. “Effective August 15, individuals 18 years and older are eligible for a second booster dose four months after their third dose. Immunization remains the best protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19 including hospitalization and death.”
The epidemiology report shows there are 46 confirmed outbreaks, 10 in Saskatoon and four in the
Regina zone. There are 488 hospital admissions with 27 in the ICU during July 17-Aug. 13.
Dr. Shahab suggested to keep up with the precautionary measures at an individual level like staying home if not well and staying up to date with vaccines.
“Most people 13 and older are with two doses but it’s really important for them to get their first booster dose and more than half under 50 still haven’t gotten their first booster,” he said.
With kids going back to school, uptake in school-age children is only 43 per cent for two doses, according to Shahab. “It is still important for parents to get their children vaccinated to help keep cases down.”
He added that mask use can be based on your own personal risk assessment.
“All of us need to play our roles, choosing to stay at home, wearing a mask if you are at risk.”