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Sask. top doctor says it's too soon to tell if province has entered COVID-19 sixth wave


Saskatchewan’s top doctor said it is too soon to tell whether the province has entered a sixth wave of COVID-19.

“It’s a bit early to say,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said Thursday. “For the last two, three weeks. We've definitely been in a plateau. We haven't been coming down. I think [Thursday’s] numbers show a bit of an upward trend, but I think we need to look at it for another week or two.”

Shahab said if Omicron, or the Omicron BA.2 subvariant remain dominant there will likely be some fluctuations in COVID-19 levels over the course of the next year.

“We will probably see undulations or the spring and summer, hopefully it will go down quite low over the summer, and then maybe come up with that in the fall along with other respiratory viruses,” Shahab said.

As the province discusses a plan for the rollout of a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Shahab said vaccination remains a “key pillar” as residents continue to learn to live with COVID-19.

As of April 2, 80.7 per cent of Saskatchewan residents five years and older were vaccinated with two doses. Among those 12 years and older, 47.9 per cent have received at least one booster dose.

“There has been an increase in vaccine uptake throughout Saskatchewan. The Far North the vaccine rates have gone up,” Shahab said. “But having said that, the vaccination rates are higher in urban areas, the highest in Regina for a second dose and booster doses. They still are lower in rural areas in the Far North.”

Shahab said booster uptake has been good in the oldest age groups, but is not high enough for some other vulnerable groups.

“In 60 and older [booster uptake] is about 70 per cent. So there's still 30 per cent of people 60 to 69 who haven't got a booster dose, about half of people 50 to 59 haven't, and these are the age groups who are at higher risk of hospitalization,” Shahab said.

“People who are older are seeing more breakthrough even if they had the first booster dose.”

As of April 6, there were 354 Saskatchewan people in hospital related to COVID-19, including 145 with a COVID-related illness, 177 with an incidental infection and 32 cases under investigation.

Shahab said while the “bulk” of hospitalizations is made up by unvaccinated people, another third of hospitalized cases are made up by people who received two vaccine doses last year, but never got around to their booster shot.

Saskatchewan reported 24 newly reported COVID-19 deaths for the week of March 27-April 2. Among those people, one was in the 20-39 age group, five were in the 40-59 age group, five were in the 60-69 age group, five were in the 70-79 age group and eight were 80 years or older.

There have been 1,255 COVID-19-related deaths in Saskatchewan since the start of the pandemic.

Shahab said Saskatchewan residents should continue taking precautions like wearing masks around people who are vulnerable, staying home if you’re sick and rapid testing.

“All those things have an impact on you know how the fifth wave will end. Or if we get into a sixth wave, how that will play out,” Shahab said.

Despite alluding to possible monthly COVID-19 epidemiology updates earlier this year, Shahab said the weekly updates will continue for the time being.

“In Saskatchewan, we certainly don't have low transmission. Certainly some of the projections and modeling that I'm seeing that is ongoing, suggest that at the current stage, we may start coming down and end of May, early June. Or we may see a bit of resurgence again and then come down, you know, maybe mid-June,” he said.

“As long as we have the transmission rates as where they are, the weekly report is useful.” Top Stories

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