Saskatchewan reported 156 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, 101 of which are in Regina.
Two more people have died due to the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
One of the people who died was a person in their 30s from Regina. The other person was in the 80-and-older age group in the far northwest zone.
On Tuesday, 66 new confirmed cases involving variants of concern (VOC) were reported in Saskatchewan. Those cases are in the Regina (61), Saskatoon (one), central east (one), south central (one) and southeast (two) zones.
To date, the provincial total of VOC cases is 136 — 130 involving the B117 variant, which was first detected in the U.K., and six involving the B1351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa.
The Regina zone accounts for 122, or 90 per cent, of those confirmed cases.
There are also currently 210 presumptive variant of concern cases reported in the far northeast (one), Saskatoon (three), central east (five), Regina (186), south central (10) and southeast (five) zones.
Reduce Regina COVID-19 transmission
The province says there is an elevated risk of COVID-19 in Regina due to community transmission of the variants
But the Saskatchewan government is not implementing additional health measures.
Instead, the province recommends that Regina and area residents, particularly those over age 50, not consider increasing their household bubbles to include two to three households up to 10 people. They should consider remaining with their current household only.
The VOCs are more easily transferrable than the original coronavirus.
"I think it's a surprise for all of us," Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said at a press conference in Regina Tuesday.
"Restaurants where previously maybe three out of 10 staff would get exposed and become symptomatic ... [it's now] 10 out of 10. In a daycare where you maybe have three out of 20 children exposed, it's [now] maybe 10 out of 20.
"So the fact that B117 is more transmissible is becoming very evident. All of us need to be a bit more cautious, especially in Regina."
The province also says that while worship services in most of Saskatchewan will be able to expand to 30 per cent capacity or 150 people, whichever is lower, as of March 19, places of worship in Regina and adjacent communities will remain at the current capacity level of 30 individuals, with physical distancing and masking guidelines.
This restriction will remain in effect until at least April 5.
The adjacent communities include: Belle Plaine, Pense, Grand Coulee, Lumsden Beach, Regina Beach, Craven, Lumsden, Edenwold, Pilot Butte, White City, Balgonie, Kronau, Davin, Gray and Riceton.
Shahab and Premier Scott Moe say the province will monitor how the variants are spreading and then regroup in a week's time. Both are emphasizing a recommitment to measures that prevent transmission of the virus.
Shahab said that if cases continue to climb and the percentage of people testing positive also increases, the government would consider further restrictions.
"We understand that this has been a long haul, and that long haul continues for the next number of weeks," Moe said on Tuesday.
"But we do have faith in the fact that not only all Saskatchewan people, but Regina folks and Regina families as well, will make the most responsible decision with respect to their individual and their unique case, understanding that we do have a tool available to us today that we just simply didn't have three months ago. And that is much larger access to vaccines."
In the meantime, all residents of Regina, those who work in Regina and area, and those who are planning travel to the region are asked to abide by all best personal protective measures:
Wear your mask in all public places, including all workplaces.
Wash non-medical masks daily.
Maintain physical distancing.
Wash your hands frequently.
Reduce activities outside of your home.
Order take-out or curbside pickup.
If you are able to work from home, do so.
Avoid all unnecessary travel to and from Regina.
Daily COVID-19 numbers
Of the 30,883 known COVID-19 cases to date in the province, 1,292 are considered active. This is the lowest number of active cases in Saskatchewan since Nov. 9.
The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 138 — 11.3 new cases per 100,000 population.
The new cases Tuesday are in the following provincial zones:
Far northwest: two.
Far northeast: seven.
Central west: one
Central east: four.
South central: one.
Residence information is pending for six other new cases.
There are currently 138 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, including 31 in intensive care.
The province also reported 161 new recoveries. There have been 29,182 known recoveries in total as of Tuesday.
To date, 615,067 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan, 2,461 of which were processed on Monday.
4,245 COVID-19 vaccinations
There were 4,245 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered Monday in Saskatchewan, according to the province.
To date, a total of 108,669 shots have been administered.
The latest doses were administered in the following provincial zones:
Far northwest: 11.
Far northeast: 111.
North central: 177.
Central east: 108.
South central: 218.
As of Tuesday, 50 per cent of Saskatchewan residents age 80 and older have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This compares with 37 per cent on March 9, before the online and telephone booking systems were launched.
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