REGINA — The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health released their biweekly community respiratory illness surveillance program (CRISP) report for Feb. 2 covering the period Jan 15 to 28, 2023, and these are five things you should know about it.
COVID-19, flu still on the way down
In the first week of the new year (Jan 1 – 7), there was an increase in COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases. However, this increase did not continue into the most recent reporting weeks:
Number of positive lab tests for COVID-19 decreased from 371 in the first week of January to 242 in the most recent week. Test positivity decreased to 4.4 per cent from 6.9 per cent.
RSV cases remained stable at 157 cases in each of the past two weeks. However, the proportion of positive laboratory tests increased from 13.3 per cent to 15.9 per cent. The highest number of cases remained among preschool aged children.
Influenza activity in Saskatchewan continues to decrease.
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) haveincreased from 18.4 in the previous week to 21.7 per 1,000 this week.
Calls to 811 HealthLine for RLIs decreased from 83.8 to 53.7 per 1,000.
School-illness absenteeism data indicated 4.6 per cent of Saskatchewan students were absent due to illness Jan 01 – 07, which rose to 10.3 per cent in the most recent surveillance week.
COVID-19 test positivity still down
COVID-19 test positivity in Saskatchewan was 4.4 per cent in the most recent week, a decrease from 6.9 per cent in the first week of January. Cases are largely in the 20 to 64 years (45 per cent) and 65+ (43 per cent) age groups.
COVID-19 outbreaks in high-risk settings fluctuated over the past four weeks. Nine new COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in high-risk settings last week compared to two to 11 per week in the previous three weeks.
BA.5 and its sublineages (denoted as BA.5*) are the most commonly detected variants (93.4 per cent of current reporting period), followed by XBB.1.5 (3.5 per cent) and BA.2* (2.5 per cent).
COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased from 76 to 61 admissions per week.
COVID-19 ICU admissions has decreased from 9 average weekly admissions in the previous two weeks to four average weekly admissions in the most recent two weeks.
The proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has decreased from 6.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent this week from the previous week.
COVID-19 deaths remained stable at 18 in the previous and current two week periods.
Saskatoon wastewater COVID-19 viral load remained moderate. Regina and South West reported an increase from moderate to moderate-high in the current week compared to the previous week.
Influenza cases, test positivity down
Influenza cases decreased each week from 32 in the first week of January to seven 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.
Influenza cases occurred mainly among the working age group 20-64 years (4 of 7 cases) in the past week.
No influenza outbreaks in high-risk settings were reported in the past month.
No Influenza hospitalizations or ICU admissions were reported during the week of Jan. 22-28,
No deaths due to Influenza were reported in the past month.
Other Respiratory Viruses remain constant
RSV detections remained constant over the past three weeks at 157 to 159 cases per week. RSV has the highest lab test positivity of the respiratory viruses (15.9 per cent).
RSV cases are largely in the pediatric age group – in the most recent surveillance week, 95 cases (62 per cent) were aged zero to four years. A high volume of lab testing occurs in this age group, which is greatly impacted by this respiratory infection.
RSV hospitalizations for the weeks of Jan. 15 to 28, 2023 decreased by 19 per cent compared to the preceding two weeks (from 126 to 102 admissions). RSV ICU admissions for the weeks of Jan. 15 to 28, 2023 decreased by 33 compared to the preceding two weeks (from 15 to 10 admissions). Children aged 0 – 19 years account for 74 per cent of RSV hospitalizations and ICU admissions over the past two weeks.
‘Other’ respiratory viruses declined 32 per cent from the beginning of January to 96 lab detections in the past week.
Outbreaks of ‘other’ viruses in high-risk settings varied between one and four outbreaks per week over the past month.
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. Less than half of individuals aged 50+ have had more than one booster dose (47 per cent).
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 = 207,609 doses).
The influenza immunization campaign launched Oct. 11, 2022. As of Dec. 31, 2022, one- quarter of the Saskatchewan population (25%) have received an influenza vaccine. This is a one percent increase from the previous reporting period. There is a 12 per cent decrease in doses administered compared to the same time last year.
Influenza test positivity is low with zero to two positive influenza lab tests across all zones.