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Saskatchewan reaches highest COVID-19 death rate among provinces: physician town hall


Saskatchewan has the highest COVID-19 death rate among the provinces, according to information shared at a physician town hall last week.

In the span of two weeks, the province’s COVID-19 mortality rate per 100,000 jumped to 4.7, surpassing the national average of 2.3.

“Our death peak for Omicron is similar to what we saw with Delta, which was reportedly a much more severe strain of COVID-19,” said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, a Saskatoon-based medical health officer.

“The pandemic has really come up with a big cost for us as a society.”

The most recent COVID-19 data report shows 28 people died from the virus between March 6 and 12, increasing Saskatchewan’s total death count to 1,179.

Certain areas have been “disproportionately” impacted by COVID-19 deaths, according to Opondo.

The Integrated Northern Health Region (INHR) has recorded 413 deaths throughout the pandemic, the highest of all regions.

The INHR COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 is 2.5 times higher than Saskatoon, which has recorded the fewest deaths at 197.

The Integrated Rural Health Region has recorded 308 deaths. Regina has had 237 COVID-19-related deaths.

Opondo said the disparities are related to a number of factors including the degree of community spread and individuals’ vulnerabilities to COVID-19.

“This is an outcome that we want to reduce as much as possible,” he said, adding there could be prevention opportunities in the future.

While deaths continue to rise, it appears Saskatchewan’s cases are plateauing or possibly nearing the start of a downward slope, according to Opondo.

“It does feel more like a never ending loop, more like a rollercoaster. But I think now with the Omicron wave we have crested,” he said.

However, he said the virus appears to have stabilized at “very, very high levels,” which means the province could experience a longer plateau.

Opondo said a high plateau is “not benign” and will continue to create pressures on the healthcare system.

“It comes at great cost for us as a system because it needs our staff operating at this higher level and really, really strains our capacity,” he said.

There is potential for a fall surge due to waning immunity and new emerging variants, he added, which could lead to COVID-19 becoming part of the seasonal respiratory viruses, like influenza. Top Stories

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