Saskatchewan reached another grim milestone Friday as 418 new COVID-19 cases were announced.
There have also been two more deaths. A total of 610 people in Saskatchewan have now died from the virus.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases per day hit 302 (25.1 new cases per 100,000). The worst seven-day average in Saskatchewan was Jan. 12, when there were an average of 321 new cases per day.
COVID-19 in Saskatchewan by the numbers
Saskatchewan now has more active cases per capita than at any time in the third wave of the pandemic. The peak of active cases per 100,000 people in the third wave was 234 on April 18. It now has 235 cases per 100,000 people.
While there were similar surges in January and April in the previous waves, University of Saskatchewan community health professor Nazeem Muhajarine said Delta is much more threatening.
"If the original Wuhan virus is a Toyota Tercel, Alpha would be a Lexus. And now we're looking at the Lamborghini with the Delta. A Lamborghini that could go anywhere, anytime, fast and packs the punch of F-150 truck."
More than one-third, or 34.9 per cent, of new cases announced on Friday are 19 years old or younger.
Muhajarine said the elephant in the room when it comes to this wave is the province's response.
"We really we have not had our political leaders act like leaders, you know, and govern the province in order to keep everyone safe, particularly those children now going back to school."
Daily vaccination progress in Saskatchewan
The new cases Friday are located in the following zones:
Far northwest (20).
Far northeast (15).
North central (47).
North east (21)
Central west (23).
Central east (11).
South central (nine).
South east (13).
Location pending (45).
Known active cases now stand at 2,755, up 289 from Thursday. Saskatoon has 811 known active cases.
About one in seven (13.2 percent) of new cases were people who were fully vaccinated.
There are 135 people in hospital for COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, with 23 of them in intensive care. Of the 135 patients, 95 are not fully vaccinated.
The province administered 2,716 vaccines Thursday, with 1,174 of those being first doses.
4th wave different from others
Dr. Cory Neudorf, the interim senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said there are a number of differences between this wave from the previous ones.
Neudorf said Saskatoon is bearing the brunt of this wave while Regina seemed to be the epicentre in the third wave.
"Another difference is the age groups involved. We've always had a little more of a predominance of younger age groups driving a lot of the cases, but this is even to a larger extent than in the past, predominantly those under age 40," Neudorf said.
The third difference is we now have effective vaccines and the vast majority of people getting infected are the unvaccinated.
"This is really turning out to be predominantly a fourth wave that's driven by the un-immunized population," Neudorf said, adding even though the vaccines are very effective, there are going to be breakthrough infections.
"This is also the first wave we've had where we've had no restrictions in place. So many people have stopped the types of preventive behaviours that were in place before. And that can also be adding to this rapid rise of cases that we're seeing.
"There are reasons to still mask and be a little careful even even if you've been immunized. But we're also seeing many people who are tired of the restrictions celebrating that maybe haven't been immunized yet. And it's the mixing of those groups right now that are going to lead to rapid increase like we're starting to see."
In a statement sent to CBC Premier Scott Moe said the government is monitoring the situation closely and will "respond accordingly in co-ordination with Dr. [Saskatchewan chief medical health officer Saqib] Shahab and our public health officials."
"While the number of new cases reported today in Saskatchewan is concerning, just 55 of those new cases — or about 13 per cent — were among fully vaccinated people," Moe said in the statement. "Most of those fully vaccinated cases will likely have only very mild symptoms, or none at all.
"In other words, if everyone was fully vaccinated, the number of new cases would still be quite low and manageable, and would not be putting pressure on our health system. The path forward is clear: get vaccinated."
Muhajarine said the province has downloaded any responsibilities to school boards and local public health officials instead of providing province-wide restrictions.
And he said doctors across the province have been raising the alarm.
"They're tired ... they've been working hard for 17 months," he said of the health-care workers.
"Our government just have to step forward and level with people that this is a crisis.
"You don't you don't deal with a crisis after the crisis has really kind of got away from you. You want to deal with a crisis. When you see a crisis coming, that's when you have to act to try to minimize it, to try to block it, if you can."
Neudorf said even if we go back to masking, social distancing and more people get vaccinated, we are in for some rough weeks.
"Certainly, if you haven't been immunized yet, please go out and get immunized now. It's going to take weeks to take effect. And the numbers are going to keep growing while we're waiting for that," he said.
"Ideally, we see that enforced with government messaging and restrictions being put back in place. We'd like to be able to avoid a big lock down again," he said. .
"If we were to adopt some of those measures, like the mandatory masking and perhaps introducing more vaccine certificates or proof of immunization at certain types of venues, we can still blunt this wave. But we're still in for a bit of a tough ride for the next while, even if those things were to be put in place."