Sask. records 16 COVID-19 deaths in 1st 2 weeks of 2023: CRISP report

All 16 were in people aged 60 and over, according to the province's most recent Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program report.

BQ 1 and BQ 1.1 variants compose 90 per cent of provincial laboratory COVID-19 tests

Masked doctor pushing patient in hospital.
All 16 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the first two weeks of 2023 were in people aged 60 and older. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Another 16 people died from COVID-19 in Saskatchewan in the first two weeks of 2023, according to the province's newest respiratory illness surveillance report.

All the new deaths attributed to the virus were in people aged 60 and up, according to the Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) report.

The 60-plus age group also made up most of the intensive care unit admissions.

About 46 per cent of people aged 50 and up in Saskatchewan have had more than one booster dose, the report says.

Table representing positive respiratory illness tests
There were 688 positive COVID-19 laboratory tests recorded in the first two weeks of 2023. (Government of Saskatchewan)

People aged 65 and older made up 43 per cent of the 260 patient-confirmed COVID-19 cases, followed closely by the 20 to 64 age group at 42 per cent.

There were no deaths from influenza reported in the first two weeks of January.

Subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 make up most cases

In the last weeks of 2022, the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants accounted for 85 per cent of the 112 variant cases confirmed in the provincial laboratory. 

In the first week of 2023, the two subvariants made up 90 per cent of the 22 variant cases.

Table representing patient-confirmed respiratory illnesses
Children four and under made up half of respiratory syncytial virus cases in Saskatchewan. (Government of Saskatchewan)

Despite making an appearance in December, the XBB.1.5 variant wasn't found in provincial testing in the first week of January.

XBB.1.5 surfaced through the recombination process — which can take place when someone is infected with different variants of the same virus. The mutations could help the subvariant latch on to human cells and evade front-line immune defences. 

RSV continues to affect young children

From Jan. 8 to 14, children aged four and under made up eight per cent of the 260 patient-confirmed COVID-19 cases, but about half of the 149 respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases.

Table representing ages hospitalized with respiratory illnesses
While COVID-19 made up most hospitalizations, youth aged 19 and under with RSV made up the second largest hospitalized demographic, behind people aged 60 and up infected with COVID-19. (Government of Saskatchewan)

The second-highest count of RSV cases were in people aged 65 and older.

Of the 16 RSV cases admitted to intensive care unit, 11 were people aged 19 and younger.