COVID-19 in Sask: 20 new cases and an increased rate of transmission noted Tuesday
18 cases in La Loche area, 2 in north region
Twenty more cases of COVID-19 were announced in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, all of them in the far north and north regions of the province.
The province's top health officials have attributed the rise in cases in the La Loche area to a more aggressive testing regime. Recent data also indicates a higher rate of transmission in Saskatchewan as a whole.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority released modelling last week showing what it called an "improved outlook" for the province, including a calculation called the effective reproductive number — the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan based on the most recent information available.
An Rt of one (1.0) would mean each person to get the virus would be expected to infect one other person, on average.
Last week the province had an Rt of 0.7 which would mean for every 10 people with COVID-19, an average of seven others would get infected. If that continued, then the rate of transmission would continue to go down.
In the last seven days, the Rt has increased to 0.97, bringing it close to the tipping point of an Rt higher than one, which is when the number of cases begins to grow overall, instead of going down.
"We're concerned that this number is increasing and are monitoring it very closely," Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said on Tuesday.
Eighteen of the new cases Tuesday are in the La Loche area, while the remaining two are in the north region. There have been 487 cases recorded in the province overall. The number of active cases in the province has risen to 171, up from 154 on Monday.
There are 114 active cases in the far north region, many due to a localized outbreak in the La Loche area. The far north has now had 128 total cases.
Thirteen people are in hospital in the province, four of them in intensive care. Two of the hospitalized people and one of the intensive care patients are in the north. The rest are in Saskatoon.
There have been 310 recoveries from the novel coronavirus so far in the province. Six people have died.
There were 587 tests performed Monday, bumping the provincial total up to 32,921 tests in total.
The cases linked to travel remain at 138 total. Another 184 are community contacts or mass gatherings, 41 cases have no known exposure and 121 other cases are under investigation.
With files from Alicia Bridges