Hospitalizations for COVID are stable in Saskatchewan, respiratory viruses increase

Respiratory viral activity is increasing in Saskatchewan, while COVID hospitalizations have been stable since July, according to a report released Thursday by the provincial health ministry.

The report, which combines data on COVID and other respiratory illnesses, replaces monthly COVID-focused reports the province previously shared.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said the format of the report has changed because there are now more respiratory viruses circulating.

« This is the time when we anticipated the arrival of the respiratory viruses, » Shahab told reporters on Wednesday. « So I think the time is right. »

The Ministry of Health will publish the report every two weeks during the respiratory disease season, rather than monthly as the COVID reports have been since the beginning of this year.

Confirmed COVID cases and deaths have fallen slightly, with people 60 and older the main victims, according to the province. There were 39 COVID-related deaths in the province from September 11 to October 8.

Shahab recommends masking

Shahab said COVID hospitalizations started to rise in September, but are now at a « plateau ».

According to the report, there are about 160 hospitalizations per week.

Intensive care admissions are also stable, with about nine per week, according to the report.

Shahab said most of the hospitalized patients are older and were admitted for a different reason but later developed symptoms of COVID. He said he still recommends masking to keep the healthcare system in check.

“There is no doubt that wearing a mask, especially if you are older, have immunosuppression, will help reduce the number of hospitalizations,” Shahab said.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said it’s possible the province could experience simultaneous outbreaks of COVID and the flu. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Shahab predicts an early flu season and said the province could face several different COVID scenarios.

« The first is that our COVID rates will start to stabilize and come down over a month or so, and then the flu will start to pick up again, » he said.

However, if COVID rates continue to rise, the province could have simultaneous outbreaks of COVID and influenza, Shahab said.

« The flu can happen anywhere from November to March, we can’t predict when it will come, but I think we should prepare for an early flu season and not delay flu vaccination, » he said. -he declares.

Low rate of use of the bivalent vaccine

The report says that outside of Regina — where the rate is 51% — less than half of the population in all other regions are up to date with their COVID vaccines, which the province defines as having the first round of vaccines and unless there is a booster.

All Saskatchewan residents age 18 and older are eligible for the bivalent COVID vaccine, which targets the virus strains now most common in Canada, provided it has been at least four months since their last dose.

So far, only 3.6% of eligible adults have received the bivalent vaccine, according to the report.

The bivalent Pfizer vaccine, which Health Canada approved last week, will be available to Saskatchewan residents starting next week, according to Health Minister Paul Merriman.

The bivalent Moderna vaccine has been available for several weeks.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has stated that Bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are now the preferred booster dose.

Shahab said it was important for people to be up to date with their COVID vaccines.

« For COVID, I think we have to remember that it doesn’t matter how many doses you’ve had in the past. If you’re four months away from your last dose of COVID, go get a bivalent, » he said. declared.

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