COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan continue to rise, with the province reporting 199 new cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial caseload so far to 33,789.
The new cases Thursday are located in the following regions, with the Regina zone remaining the COVID-19 hotspot in the province:
Far northeast, three.
North central, nine.
Central west, one.
Central east, five.
South central, 13.
The province's seven-day average of daily new cases rose to 206 on Thursday, or 16.8 new cases per 100,000 people.
Saskatchewan also reported that nine more cases had been confirmed to be variants of concern. As of Wednesday, confirmed variant of concern cases had risen to 1,682 from 1,673.
Province underreported hospitalizations
Minister of Health Paul Merriman released a statement Thursday saying that, on Wednesday, the province had underreported hospitalizations due to a data error by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Merriman said hospitalizations were higher than was reported.
On Wednesday, the province reported 166 patients in hospital, with 23 in the ICU. However, actual hospitalizations for that day included 192 people in hospital, 33 of them in the ICU. Of those, Regina had 88 people in hospital — 10 more than reported Wednesday — and 22 in the ICU — six more than reported Wednesday.
Merriman said he met with SHA CEO Scott Livingstone to express disappointment and concern over the error and "to ensure that data will be reported accurately moving forward."
"This data represents people in care in our system, and it is critical that this information is reported accurately and transparently," Merriman said in a statement.
"As minister, I look to this information to inform key decisions, and I know that the public has a rightful expectation that this information is reported accurately."
Merriman said he was assured by the SHA the error has been rectified and that Thursday's COVID-19 numbers are accurate.
The province said the discrepancy in previous reports was a result of how patients who receive intensive care in a surge bed outside of an ICU were being recorded.
Hospitalizations have continued to rise, with Thursday's report saying 193 people are in hospital, 34 of whom are in the ICU.
New COVID-19 drive-thru vaccination sites
Saskatchewan administered 7,706 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, bringing the total number administered to 200,633.
Starting Friday, the COVID-19 vaccine appointment booking system will expand to include residents 58 years of age or older.
Saskatchewan is receiving a new shipment of AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday from the United States.
The province will send about 29,100 doses to Regina, 11,000 doses to Saskatoon, 900 doses to North Battleford and 4,300 doses to Prince Albert.
As a result, the province will operate drive-thru vaccination sites in nine communities: Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Weyburn, Yorkton, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Lloydminster and North Battleford.
The clinics will be open to residents 55 years of age or older, with doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Clinics in some communities will begin as early as this weekend, with the rest added throughout the next week. Drive-thru clinic schedules can be found on the SHA's website.