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'We need to know the risk': Monthly COVID-19 reports not enough for risk assessment, says researcher

There were 25 new deaths reported in the province’s monthly COVID-19 report for the period of Aug. 14 to Sept. 10.

In that time, there were also 1,932 confirmed cases, compared to 1,524 in the previous monthly update released on Aug. 18.

There were 594 hospital admissions, which is up from 488 the last update.

There were also 41 confirmed outbreaks, compared to 46 in the last update.

The Omicron sublineage BA.5 was the dominant strain in the province, accounting for 92.5 per cent of cases. Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the province was prepared for the increase.

“What we saw in other provinces and what we predicted was we would see a gradual increase in COVID-19 transmission,” he said. “That’s what we are seeing in August and September.”

As of Sept. 10, there have been 119 Remdesivir prescriptions filled and there have been 956 courses of Paxlovoid dispensed by pharmacies.

Of the population 18 and older, 45.3 per cent have received at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

People 18-years-old and older are now eligible for a second booster dose, as of Aug.15, as long as they have received their first dose at least four months ago.

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Saskatchewan is currently the only province in Canada that releases its data every four weeks. On Tuesday, Minister of Health Paul Merriman said that is unlikely to change.

“Dr. Shahab’s recommendation is to be on monthly reports, just like every other contagious illness,” he said. “I don’t see any changes right now, I understand the concern. But people can do their risk assessment if they want to wear a mask, they can.”

However, some experts believe the public cannot make risk assessments based on the monthly reports. Epidemiologist Nazeem Mahajarine said the data needs to be more frequent.

“What you are saying and what you are doing are opposite of each other,” he said. “We need to know where the risk level of COVID-19 is higher so we can assess our risk.

On Thursday, Shahab told reporters the ministry is working on making reports more frequent. Pre-pandemic, weekly influenza reports would begin in the mid-to-late fall.

“We’re going to try a joint report for all respiratory viruses, including influenza and COVID-19,” he said. “We will have to see how much new information there is to provide more frequently than monthly. Maybe bi-weekly is valuable.”


Both Shahab and Mahajarine attributed the spike in cases to the Omicron variant.

Starting Monday, the Moderna bivalent booster dose will be expanding to all Saskatchewan residents 70-years-old and older, and Saskatchewan residents in First Nation, Metis communities, and the Northern Service Administration District who are 50-years-old and older.

Shahab said he hopes to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths decrease with the booster.

“[Vaccinations], even the original strain, have a huge impact on severe outcomes,” he said. “It’s really important for people to step up. The quicker this age group gets vaccinated, the quicker we can open it up to younger ages.”

Mahajarine said that although Saskatchewan has one of the lowest vaccine rates in the country, now is the time for a booster.

“The bivalent vaccine has come onto the scene at a good time,” he said. “Particularly if you haven’t had a vaccine dose in the past four months: get the bivalent vaccine.”

The dose will be available at Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies, according to a release from the Government of Saskatchewan.

The SHA recommends that eligible residents receive the dose at least four months following their last COVID-19 vaccination and can only be used as a booster, not as a first or second shot.

Additional age groups will be eligible to receive the vaccine once more supply is received by the province. Top Stories


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