Regina's active COVID-19 case rate is the lowest in Sask.
Regina was once the epicentre of Saskatchewan’s third wave of COVID-19 as the Alpha variant pushed case numbers to record highs.
The province has seen case numbers climb again since reopening on July 11, but the provincial capital hasn’t seen the drastic increases seen in other areas like Saskatoon and Far North regions.
Public health experts don’t know how long that will last.
"Regina is not a sealed community," Nazeem Muhajarine, a community health and epidemiology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said. "People are circulating who are carrying the virus, who are not vaccinated and so, Regina will probably follow the pattern."
As of Monday, Regina has the lowest active cases per 100,000 in Saskatchewan with 19, while the next lowest is the Central East zone at 43.
Saskatoon’s active case rate is currently four times higher than Regina’s at 73.
When the public health measures were lifted, Regina had the second-most active cases with 77, while Saskatoon sat at 56. Since then, Saskatoon has seen an increase of 187 to 246, leading the province, and Regina’s have dropped by 20 to 51.
There have been 49 new cases reported in Regina since the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ home opener on Aug. 6, which was the first mass gathering in the province since the start of the pandemic.
By comparison, Saskatoon has seen 264 people test positive over that time and has hosted events like the Saskatoon Exhibition and Jazz Festival.
"When a large number of people are gathering in Regina for our favourite football team, they’re coming from all over the province, not just Regina, and there will be opportunities for a lot of different transmission chains to begin," he said.
Muhajarine said removing all restrictions has allowed the virus to spread freely among the unvaccinated.
"The time to get ahead and really drive the last few nails in COVID-19 is when we were on top of it, when we actually suppressed it… we missed that opportunity," he said.
"Political decisions have to lineup with science… political decisions have not always lined up with science in this province to a degree we would want to see."
The Delta variant is fuelling the rise in cases around Saskatchewan.
During last week’s Physicians Town Hall hosted by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Dr. Cory Neudorf stated that on its current trend, Delta was quickly moving towards becoming the dominant strain.
"We’re starting to see the Delta variant taking over in most parts of the province now and it’s just a matter of time before it spreads and becomes the dominant variant," Dr. Neudorf said.
Muhajarine said Regina’s high vaccine uptake is protecting residents from Delta taking hold.
Regina currently has the highest percentage of residents fully vaccinated at 60 per cent, while only four regions have seen uptake reach the upper 50 per cent.
"We in Saskatchewan are stuck with that first dose and we have been stuck since June," Muhajarine said. "That’s why very deliberately kickstarting the first dose uptake by measures like proof of vaccination documents is the right thing to do."
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