Omicron over the holidays: Sask. releases modeling, public health recommendations
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says the province is not seeing “widespread community transmission” of Omicron, yet. However, he says it is only a matter of time before it becomes the dominant strain.
Government modeling shows daily cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions will increase in the next month without stronger public health interventions, such as gathering limits.
The scenarios are based on the assumption that the Omicron variant is “much more transmissible than Delta,” with cases doubling roughly every five days. However, government officials say the preliminary scenarios come with “uncertainty” due to limited evidence.
However, Shahab says once we see “rapid dissemination” of Omicron to other parts of the province, officials will have to use public health measures to bend the curve.
"But we have to be quick, we have to be nimble with Omicron,” Shahab said.
“We can't take weeks to make decisions. Decisions have to be made in hours to days once we start seeing a surge."
Shahab says if a sudden surge happens in the a certain part of the province, regional public health orders may be put in place.
As of Tuesday, Saskatchewan had detected 82 cases of Omicron.
Of the province’s first 65 Omicron cases, one-third are linked to international travel, one-third related to interprovincial travel and one-third come from household transmission. Shahab could not provide the source of transmission for the remaining cases.
No one has been hospitalized due to Omicron in Saskatchewan.
“If we see a surge we will probably see higher case numbers than we’ve seen with Delta,” Shahab said.
Early data from the UK shows hospitalizations and deaths linked to Omicron, but the rate is lower than Delta, according to Shahab. However, he says the high transmissibility of Omicron could still have an impact on hospitals.
“If it’s half as severe but you have twice the number of cases you have the same pressure on the acute care system,” he said.
Going forward, Shahab says we should treat every positive case as though it is Omicron. Other provinces are already seeing Omicron take over Delta as the dominant strain, and he says it will be no different in Saskatchewan.
Shahab says the provinces overall cases are some of the lowest in the country, with the test positivity rate below five per cent and case rates below 5/100,000. Those are two of the indicators Shahab is monitoring to determine community spread.
‘Common cold-like symptoms’
Besides higher transmissibility, Omicron also presents different symptoms compared to other variants, according to epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine.
He says people should watch out for a runny nose, scratchy throat, slight headache and body aches, and a cough.
“Don’t expect not to have any sense of smell,” Muhajarine said.
“It’s the common cold-like symptoms that people experience with Omicron.”
Muhajarine says if people are experiencing these symptoms they should by-pass the rapid antigen self-tests and get a PCR test immediately.
Holiday gathering recommendations
Shahab says holidays will be different this year compared to last, as the majority of people are fully vaccinated in the province. However, he says we cannot take things for granted.
He says it is OK for people to gather safely over the holidays, but they need to keep their groups small and consistent. Shahab recommends limiting gatherings to two or three households with 10 to 15 people. If people are planning a larger event over the holidays, he says they should reschedule it.
“It’s been a tough two years for us and it is important that we stay connected with friends and family,” Shahab said, adding interprovincial travel can be essential for mental health if it means staying connecting with loved ones.
“We obviously can’t be in a state of lockdown continuously. At some point we have to emerge from the pandemic.”
Ultimately, he says people need to do their own personal risk assessment to determine what they are most comfortable with. Proper masking, getting a booster dose as soon as possible, and maintaining proper ventilation and airflow during indoor gathers will also help cut down on transmission, according to Shahab.
He suggests taking a rapid antigen test before gathering with a group of people and if you’re not feeling well, you should stay home.
Free rapid antigen test kits are being distributed at more than 500 locations province wide. A list of distributors can be found here.
Regina Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
Fifty-eight-year-old Vivian Ketchum is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, 'Please send the police now,' as officers waited more than an hour to breach the classroom after following the gunman into the building, authorities said Friday.
Fragments of a comet broken nearly 30 years ago could potentially light up the night sky Monday as experts predict an 'all or nothing' spectacle.
A new report says Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto rank among the top 20 cities around the world when it comes to work-life balance.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the federal government is working with groups on the ground to resolve air travel 'bottlenecks' in time for a busy summer.
Barrett Ross says his dog Indy suffered a punctured bowel, lost a tooth and had his stomach injured when he was attacked by three other dogs.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) temporary downtown shelter has been granted an extension to operate at its present location until April 2023 — but Tribal Chief Mark Arcand hopes to relocate well before then.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
Pembina Trails School Division is confirming to CTV News that a group of students found a body during community cleanup at Ècole South Pointe School.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
'It's one way to be creative': Winnipeg student wants to be a bartender when older; school doesn't like comment in yearbook
Bartender. That is what one Grade 4 student said for the yearbook when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, an answer the school is asking him to change.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing a slew of charges following a suspected hate-motivated incident at a Jewish school in North York.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
As of Friday evening, 26,000 Hydro Ottawa customers remain without power in all neighbourhoods of the city.
Approximately 25,000 people will take part in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Ottawa Bylaw says the "mama and her 4 kittens" were abandoned outside the PetSmart on Innes Road sometime between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
Researchers working in partnership with UBC believe an eco-friendly material could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
Canada's highest court has ruled that Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six people at the Quebec City mosque in 2017, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Quebec says it is ready to vaccinate people who have come into close contact with monkeypox as soon as Friday.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
The emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital unexpectedly shut down on Friday evening due to a staffing shortage.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.
A Cape Breton father is warning the public of the dangers in the area he lives after his teenager son fell nearly 40 feet over a cliff in Glace Bay.
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
The lawyer who represented a man who murdered three RCMP officers nearly eight years ago in Moncton, N.B., said a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada Friday may potentially change his sentence.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
Staff at the new Sault Metis Centre are getting set for the grand opening Saturday.
A man, who was a referee at high school volleyball games in Guelph for more than 30 years, is facing sex assault-related charges.
The Region of Waterloo says there's a high safety risk at a Kitchener encampment and they are working with residents to prepare them for their eventual move.
Two low-cost airlines are butting heads over an agreement at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Swoop wants to offer flights but the airport already has an exclusivity deal with rival Flair Airlines