COVID-19 in Sask.: 735 new cases set daily record

Saskatchewan is reporting 735 new cases of COVID-19 hours before New Year’s Eve celebrations, the highest recorded number of new cases documented in the province.

The record count comes ahead of New Year’s Eve gatherings

Saskatchewan's active case count has spiked by more than three times from a little more than a week ago. (Alexander Quon/CBC News)

Saskatchewan reported the highest number of new cases recorded since the beginning of the pandemic on Friday, a count of 735, only a day after the province announced changes to testing and isolation that would affect the accuracy of case counts. 

Previously, the highest number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 was 601, recorded on Sept. 30, according to data compiled by the CBC. The provincial COVID-19 dashboard shows the second highest number was 650 on Oct. 7, but that included cases postdated from September

The province's active case count has increased to 2,844, which is more than 3.5 times higher than it was on Dec. 23, before there was a break in the province's COVID-19 reporting for the holidays. At that point, there were 789 known active cases of COVID-19, according to the provincial dashboard.

Premier Scott Moe sent an email to media on Friday to respond to the case numbers, echoing his statements during a newsconference on Thursday afternoon that the province should expect higher case numbers because the Omicron variant is more contagious that other strains of the coronavirus. 

"But the more important numbers we are tracking are hospitalizations and ICU admissions," Moe said in the statement.

"Today, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained the same and ICU admissions continued to decline, now at 12. Both hospitalizations and ICU admissions are at their lowest levels since August."

Thursday's announcement included noting the province had changed its approach to testing and isolation policies — most notably no new public health measures — and that positive results from a rapid antigen test can be considered as accurate so residents don't need to confirm with a PCR test. 

During the announcement, Moe acknowledged that this change would affect the accuracy of case counts from the province. 

There have been 117 known confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Saskatchewan, another 1,355 cases are likely cases of the virus, according to the province

There were no new deaths reported on Friday, the number remaining at 955. 

Hospitalizations have also stayed the same with 79 people in hospital. However, there are two fewer people in intensive care, down to 12, and two more in inpatient care, bringing that number up to 67.

There were 2,819 new tests reported on Friday. Accounting for the new cases, the test positivity rate was 26 per cent.

Saskatchewan reported 1,644 new doses of vaccine, 608 of which were first doses and the 1,036 were full vaccination doses. 

A total of 1.8 million doses have been administered in the province. There have also been 283,558 extra doses of the vaccine administered, the majority of which are third doses (277,705) as of Dec. 28. 

The province will not be updating the COVID-19 dashboard again until Tuesday.