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Five things to know about the Feb. 16 CRISP report

Flu cases and COVID-19 continue weeks-long trend downward in the province.
covid dropping graph
The COVID-19 case numbers for Saskatchewan continue to trend down in the latest CRISP report.

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health released their biweekly community respiratory illness surveillance program (CRISP) report for Feb. 16 covering the period Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, 2023, and these are five things you should know about it.

COVID-19, flu, RSV continue on the decline

There has been a decrease in COVID-19 cases over the past four weeks and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases are also trending downward.

The number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 275 in Jan. 29 – Feb. 4 to 207 in the most recent week. Test positivity increased from 6.1 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

RSV cases trended downward over the past four weeks. Cases among preschool aged children comprise over half of those detected.

Influenza activity in Saskatchewan has dropped below the threshold of a typical season (0.6 per cent versus 2 per cent positivity).

The majority of respiratory virus hospitalizations continue to be COVID-19, followed by RSV.

Sentinel indicators of respiratory transmission in the community fluctuates, as the season wanes;

Weekly visits to the Saskatchewan emergency departments for respiratory-like illness (RLI) have slightly decreased from 25.8 per 1,000 visits in the previous week to 24.3 per 1,000 this week.

Calls to 811 HealthLine for RLIs decreased from 66.5 to 51.6 per 1,000.

School-illness absenteeism data did not change much over the last four reporting weeks. The data indicated 10.6 per cent of Saskatchewan students were absent due to illness in the week of Jan 15 – 21, which slightly increased to 11.4 per cent in the most recent surveillance week.

Regina’s wastewater COVID-19 viral load remained the same at moderate-high; however, the trajectory is decreasing based on the weekly trend. This same decrease occurred in all areas of the province except for the North West, Central East and South Central.

COVID-19 test positivity goes up, deaths stable

COVID-19 test positivity in Saskatchewan was 6.4 per cent in the most recent week, an increase from 4.9 per cent in the third week of January. Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years (44 per cent) and 65+ (43 per cent) age groups.

COVID-19 outbreaks in high-risk settings fluctuated over the past four weeks. Only four outbreaks were reported in the past two weeks.

BQ.1.1 and its sublineages (denoted as BQ.1.1) are the most commonly detected variants (52.5 per cent of current reporting period), followed by BQ.1 (27.7 per cent) and XBB.1.5 (10 per cent).

COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased from 79 to 59 admissions per week.

COVID-19 ICU admissions remained stable at four average weekly admissions in the previous and current two-week periods.

The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased from 5.5 per cent to 5.7 per cent this week from the previous week.

In the past two weeks, Jan 29 to Feb 11, there have been 18 deaths in COVID-19 cases, all in the 60 years or older group.

Influenza cases, test positivity way down

Influenza cases decreased each week from 32 in the first week of January to five cases this week.

Influenza test positivity also dropped each week from 2.1 per cent in the first week of January to 0.6 per cent this week which is below the two per cent threshold for an influenza season.

Influenza cases occurred mainly among school-aged children 5-19 years (four of five cases) in the past week.

No influenza outbreaks in a high-risk setting were reported in the past month.

No influenza hospitalizations or ICU admissions were reported during the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, 2023.

No deaths due to Influenza were reported in the past six weeks.

Other Respiratory Viruses

RSV detections decreased from 164 detections mid-January to 106 in the past week. RSV has the highest lab test positivity of the respiratory viruses (11.8 per cent).

RSV cases are largely in the pediatric age group – in the most recent surveillance week, 58 cases (57 per cent) were aged 0 – 4 years. A high volume of lab testing occurs in this age group which is greatly impacted by this respiratory infection.

RSV hospitalizations for the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023 decreased by 28 per cent compared to the previous week (from 57 to 41 admissions). RSV ICU admissions for the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023 decreased by 87 per cent compared to the previous week (from 8 to 1 admissions). Children aged 0 – 19 years account for 69  per cent of RSV hospitalizations and ICU admissions over the past two weeks.

‘Other’ respiratory viruses remained stable between 101 and 95 detections over the past four weeks. The positivity rate increased week over week to 5.2 per cent this past week.

Outbreaks of ‘other’ viruses in high-risk settings varied between four and six outbreaks per week over the past four weeks and accounted for four of the five respiratory outbreaks in high risk settings this week.

The vaccine situation 

With the exception of Regina, all areas of the province have less than 50 per cent of their population up-to-date for COVID-19 vaccines.

Of those aged five years and older, 21 per cent have received their latest booster dose in the last six months.

Only 20 per cent of individuals aged 12+ years have received a bivalent booster dose (n = 211,332 doses).

Less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had more than one booster dose (47 per cent).

The influenza immunization campaign launched Oct. 11, 2022. As of Jan. 31, 2023, 27 per cent of the Saskatchewan population have received an influenza vaccine. This is a two percent increase from the previous reporting period. There is a 10 per cent decrease in doses administered compared to the same time last year.