Saskatoon

COVID-19 in Sask.: P1 coronavirus variant spreads beyond province's southwest

Saskatchewan health officials are reporting more cases of the P1 coronavirus variant, including infections in regions that have until now remained untouched by that more transmissible strain of the virus. 

Saskatoon overtakes Regina in daily new cases

Saskatoon Tribal Council volunteer Montana Ledoux puts on PPE at the STC-run vaccination clinic inside SaskTel centre in Saskatoon on April 15, 2021. (Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan health officials are reporting more cases of the P1 coronavirus variant, including infections in regions that have until now remained untouched by that more transmissible strain of the virus. 

Officials announced a cumulative total of 19 P1 cases Tuesday, up from only five cases Monday, which were confined to Saskatchewan's southwest region.

The 14 new P1 cases announced Tuesday were found in the following regions:

  • Northwest: eight.
  • Saskatoon: one.
  • Southwest: three.
  • South central: two.

The P1 variant was first discovered in Japan, in four travellers who had returned from Brazil. As such, it is often associated with Brazil, where COVID-19 cases and deaths have spiked significantly in recent weeks.

The P1 variant is a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and spreads quicker than the original strain.

Like the B117 coronavirus variant — first identified in the U.K. — and the B1351 variant, which was first found in South Africa, the P1 variant has been associated with increased transmissibility.

Overall, Saskatchewan announced 97 new variant-of-concern cases compared to Monday. The Saskatoon area posted the largest day-over-day increase in variant cases, accounting for 48 of those 97 new cases.  

Officials also announced six new deaths associated with COVID-19 on Tuesday — the highest daily death toll since April 9. The province also announced 224 new cases of the illness in the province.

The six deaths were among people in the following age groups and regions:

  • Regina (one person in their 60s and one person aged 80 or over).
  • South west (one person in their 60s).
  • South east (one person in their 40s and two people aged 80 or over).

Saskatoon overtakes Regina in daily new cases

For the first time in weeks, the Saskatoon area reported more new cases of COVID-19 than Regina, which has led all areas of the province in new infections.

Officials recorded 70 new cases in Saskatoon on Tuesday, compared to 30 in Regina.

Only the previous day, the situation was essentially reversed, with Regina reporting 80 new cases versus Saskatoon's 39.

The abrupt switch in status comes the day after University of Saskatchewan researchers flagged an alarming spike in viral load in Saskatoon's wastewater — a finding they said potentially augurs a significant impending increase in COVID-19 cases in Saskatoon. 

(CBC)
 

The other new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday were in the following regions: far north west (eight); north west (43); north central (17); north east (five); central west (two); central east (21); south west (four); south central (six); south east (11).  

Saskatchewan's seven-day average of daily new cases stands at 251, or 20.5 new cases per 100,000 people — still a relatively high level compared to the previous months.

(Government of Saskatchewan)

There are 187 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 45 people in intensive care.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

With files from Trevor Howlett

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