February was 3rd-deadliest pandemic month in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan recorded 143 COVID-19 deaths for the month of February up to Feb. 26, with two more days' worth of data still to be reported.

143 deaths reported for month up to Feb. 26; data for last 2 days still to come

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator in a Toronto intensive care unit in a Jan. 25, 2022 photo. In Saskatchewan, 30 people were in ICUs with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, the province's latest report says. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

COVID-19 deaths and ICU cases continue to climb in Saskatchewan, according to the province's latest weekly pandemic report.

Forty-four more deaths were reported in the Feb. 20 to 26 period, bringing the total for February up to that point to 143 deaths, with two more days' worth of data still to come.

That number already makes last month the third-deadliest in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province's north central zone had the highest number of deaths during the Feb. 20 to 26 period, with 11.

Dr. Alex Wong, a Regina infectious disease specialist, said the number of deaths reported over the latest period is very high, but he said the province's shift to providing weekly data makes it difficult to properly assess the situation.

"It's frustrating that we don't have more regular updates with regards to the data and more granular data, so that we can try to have a better understanding of where we're at," he said. 

The 143 deaths reported in February up until the 26th works out to an average of 5.5 deaths a day, which Wong said is "a shockingly high number."

If that average was applied to a month with 31 days, it would actually have been the deadliest of the pandemic, he said. 

October 2021 saw the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Saskatchewan to date, with 156 — an average of slightly over five per day.

The latest report shows three more people in intensive care with COVID-19 compared to the previous period. A total of 30 adults were in Saskatchewan ICUs as of Wednesday, and 353 people in total were hospitalized with COVID-19.

"We just don't see those curves coming down the way we would hope," Wong said. 

He said a high death rate coupled with a high ICU rate is not entirely surprising, given the messaging and decision-making of the provincial government.

"There's not been any real consideration, I think, given to how it is that we should be protecting all of those individuals in society who have every right to live their lives in ways that are safe and as low-risk as possible," he said. 

Wong said in the absence of having any restrictions to protect older people, medically vulnerable people and children, wearing a mask is a small step most everybody can still take, even though it's not required. 

The latest report says 11 long-term-care homes are dealing with COVID outbreaks in Saskatchewan.

On the vaccine front, 80.3 per cent of Saskatchewanians five and older now have two doses. Of those 18 and older, 50.7 per cent have at least one booster.