The number of people with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan hospitals, which had been steadily rising since early January, jumped by 19 on Saturday to 150 according to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard.
It's the highest single-day increase since late September 2021.
On Sept. 28, for comparison, hospitalizations in the province rose by 22 patients from 289 to 311 people.
On Saturday, the provincial update said 139 of the current hospitalizations were inpatient care. Of them, 64 are a COVID-19 related illness, 54 people are incidental, asymptomatic infections and 21 cases have not been determined.
The remaining 11 people are in intensive care, six of whom are there for COVID-19 related illness.
Provincial officials said they will be tracking hospitalizations as the key indicator of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
COVID-19 in Saskatchewan by the numbers
Active case counts, which were already imprecise because people may not get tested for the virus or may be unaware they are infected, are more inaccurate since government officials encouraged people who tested positive on a rapid antigen test to forgo an official PCR test if they're asymptomatic.
Despite that, there have been more than 1,000 new cases for six of the past seven days — a milestone only reached by Saskatchewan in 2022 — and active case counts have continued on a steep rise, more than doubling the active case record set before 2022, which was 4,864.
There are now 10,923 confirmed active cases.
On Saturday, the province reported 1,114 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases to 98,699.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases of 1,120 is also a pandemic record, beating out the previous record, set Friday, of 1,098.
There were 3,424 new tests reported on Saturday, meaning the test positivity rate is 32.5 per cent.
Percentage of eligible Saskatchewan residents by vaccine dose
Saskatchewan reported 3,063 new doses of the vaccine: 1,255 of them were first doses and the remaining 1,808 were full doses (either one dose of the Janssen vaccine or two doses of a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine).
There have now been 1,829,537 doses administered.
The provincial update shows 876,137 are fully dosed.
Saskatchewan had previously ranked among the lowest number of active cases, according to the Government of Canada epidemiology update.
As of Thursday, it had risen closer to the middle of the pack — but its low numbers could be attributed to the current policy encouraging people to not seek a PCR test if they're asymptomatic but test positive on a rapid antigen test.
Saskatchewan posted 784 known active cases per 100,000 on Thursday, according to the federal government, compared to the national average of 1,009 active cases per capita.