COVID-19 in Sask: 248 new cases, 112 recoveries, over 1000 active cases in Regina

Saskatchewan reported 248 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and three new deaths.

The seven-day average of new COVID cases in Saskatchewan has reached 200

Laboratory technologists work to sequence the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the BCCDC in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Saskatchewan reported 248 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and three new deaths. 

All three of the people who died were in their 80s — two in Regina, and one in the southeast.

There are no new cases involving the more transmissible coronavirus variants of concern (VOC) in Saskatchewan today confirmed by whole genome sequencing. As of Saturday, 1,365 VOC cases had been identified in Saskatchewan.

The province says these variants are "beginning to rise" across southern Saskatchewan, particularly in the Moose Jaw area, though over 80 per cent of these cases are still in Regina. 

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said on Sunday it would be expanding mobile testing in the areas of Moose Jaw, where variants of concern were increasing.

The health authority said it would conduct mobile testing on Monday and Tuesday, which would replace the previously scheduled drop-in testing at 250 Thatcher Drive in Moose Jaw. 

Testing at the Thatcher Drive location was to resume on Wednesday.

Anyone who wants or needs COVID-19 testing in Moose Jaw can still book appointments by calling the 811 HealthLine for referral.

Of the 33,031 known COVID-19 cases to date in the province, 1,950 are considered active. 1026 of the active cases are in Regina.

Kyle Anderson, an assistant professor of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology at the University of Saskatchewan, says the reported number of cases in Regina may be just the "tip of the iceberg" as people wait for results, or choose to not get tested at all.

"Even though testing is increasing quite well and the positivity hasn't really changed a whole lot ... the fact that it has continued to trend upwards for the last week tells us that things are not immediately going to level off," he said. 

The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 200 — 16.3 new cases per 100,000 population. 

Over half of the province's active cases of COVID-19 are in the Regina region as of March 28, 2021. (Government of Saskatchewan)

The new cases Sunday are in the following provincial zones:

  • Far north west: four.
  • Far north east: four.
  • North west: four.
  • North central: 16.
  • North east: four.
  • Saskatoon: 24.
  • Central west: one.
  • Central east: 10.
  • Regina: 130.
  • South west: one.
  • South central: 17.
  • South east: 32.

There is also one case with pending residence information.

There are currently 155 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, including 27 in intensive care.

The province also reported 112 new recoveries. There have been 30,648 known recoveries in total as of Sunday. 

To date, 656,103 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan, 3,748 of which were processed on Saturday.

6,187 vaccinations Saturday

The province says 6,187 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered Saturday. To date, a total of 173,696 doses have been administered in the province.

Three quarters of Saskatchewan residents in their 80s and more than 40 per cent of residents in their 70s have now received their first dose of vaccine. Nearly 60 per cent of phase 1 health care workers have also received their first dose.

At the moment, Anderson says vaccinations are not keeping pace with the spread of the disease, particularly the variants of concern. 

"It's a race that we're unlikely to win very well, because even once we do get vaccines in arms, it takes two or three weeks before those people are protected," he said.

"So we're really trying to fix things with vaccines, and maybe a month from now we will hit our targets of how much vaccination we need. But from now until then, we're just going to have this continued spreading."

Additional public health measures in effect in Regina

As of this morning, all restaurants and licensed establishments in the Regina area were required to close for in-person dining. Take-out and delivery are still permitted. Venues like community halls, galleries, theatres, bowling alleys, arcades and car shows were also required to close.

Anderson says these public health orders will be useful for the Regina area but are too limited in scope, as variants of concern continue to spread across the southern part of the province. 

"If people are looking at Regina and saying, maybe we should have done something a week ago, two weeks ago, that's the same situation that central and southeastern and smaller communities around Regina are facing right now," he said.

"If you can work from home, or if you're an employer and can have your employees working from home, you should do that."

And Anderson recognizes, even in the face of these more transmissible variants, not everybody can choose to avoid them.

"If you're someone who can make sure that you're double-masking and it's well fitted, and you can space out your grocery trips and work from home and things like that, you shouldn't be very scared that COVID is somehow going to get to you," he said.

"But if you're someone who's working retail, where you have to choose between working or not being able to put food on your table, you're really being forced into this position where government policy could try and keep you safe but they're choosing not to."