Peak of Sask. Omicron wave still 2 to 4 weeks away: Health officials
The Omicron wave in Saskatchewan is expected to peak in the next two to four weeks, according to the province’s top doctor.
“Apart from school or work, we need to really minimize our non-essential contacts for the next two to four weeks,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said during a press conference Tuesday.
“That is going to be critical because once the hospitalizations peak, that is going to be due to exposures that happened two to three weeks earlier.”
Shahab indicated that hospitalization rates are not expected to peak for around six weeks —approximately two weeks after the case peak.
“While we expect to peak in case numbers over the next two to four weeks, starting in Regina and Saskatoon and continuing to rural and northern areas, hospitalizations peak after a one to two week lag,” said Shahab. “So, unfortunately, we will see hospitalizations increase for another six weeks.”
As of Tuesday there are 171 people in hospital related to COVID-19, with 17 of those receiving intensive care.
Saskatchewan’s test positivity rate was nearly 40 per cent province wide on Monday and nearly 30 per cent on Tuesday. Shahab said the province’s test positivity peak will likely coincide with the peak of the Omicron wave.
“As the test positivity rate goes high and then starts coming down, that’s a good indication an area has peaked,” Shahab said.
“We fully expect parts of the province that have a high test positivity rate, such as the urban areas and further south, to start coming down first, because we started to see the Omicron surge there earlier.”
However, the positivity rate only accounts for those who have taken a PCR test and not just a rapid test.
Shahab said with somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 PCR tests being administered each day as of late, the current self isolation rules regarding rapid testing will remain in place.
The isolation protocol will help prioritize PCR tests for the most vulnerable and those with symptomatic cases.
“Because we have such high testing numbers, 3,000 or 4,000 people getting tested with PCR everyday. We want to optimize PCR testing for those who are symptomatic, especially those who are older, and have underlying health risk factors, because then that can link them to additional therapies or better management of the underlying conditions as well,” said Shahab.
When it comes to the Omicron peak, Shahab said reaching out to other testing providers can also help the province determine when the Omicron surge will peak and start to decrease.
“We are trying to reach out to other providers of testing, beta testing for example and travel, because they have also seen an increase in test positivity rates from less than one per cent to three or four per cent,” he said.
“That’s obviously not as high as nearly 40 per cent, but they’re testing people who are travelling and otherwise feeling well, so all those pieces of information are important pieces to help us track when Omicron is going to peak in the community.”
The province again reiterated how important it is to stay home from work or school when not feeling well and to get tested.
Tuesday saw another 1,089 cases announced, the test positivity number remained high at close to 30 per cent.
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