Flu hospitalizations climbing in Sask. as province records 39 more COVID-19 deaths in latest report

A file photo shows a nurse preparing to give a patient a flu shot at a clinic in Saskatoon. So far, the province has reported 278 confirmed cases of influenza this season. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)
A file photo shows a nurse preparing to give a patient a flu shot at a clinic in Saskatoon. So far, the province has reported 278 confirmed cases of influenza this season. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)

The latest data released by Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health shows a jump in the number of influenza cases, as the number of deaths in the province from COVID-19 also continues to climb.

Over the two-week reporting period from Oct. 23 to Nov. 5, Saskatchewan recorded 39 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

There have now been 699 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in 2022, according to a CBC calculation based on provincial data.

The province no longer provides the total number of COVID-19 deaths in its reports.

The 699 COVID-19 deaths recorded so far this year is lower than the 710 reported during the same time period in 2021.

The latest report also indicates a week-over-week drop in COVID-19 test positivity rates.

Between Oct. 23 and Oct. 29, the province reported 800 confirmed cases, with an 11.8 per cent test positivity rate. The following week saw 600 COVID-19 cases with a test positivity of 9.9 per cent, according to the report.

However, experts have said the test positivity rates and case totals are not a significant indicator of the ongoing pandemic, since the general public no longer has access to PCR testing, which is the source of the provincial data.

Weekly COVID-19 hospitalization totals also dropped, from 194 during the week of Oct. 23-29 to 164 for Oct. 30-Nov. 5.

However, the number of COVID-19 admissions to intensive care units increased, from 10 during the Oct. 23-29 period to 15 for Oct. 30-Nov. 5.

Vaccinations stalled

Vaccination rates remain unchanged, according to the latest data from the province.

Just 46 per cent of the province's residents age five and up have two COVID-19 vaccination doses and a booster dose.

That figure has remained unchanged since the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

The province no longer provides granular, age-specific COVID-19 vaccination data to the public.

However, the data does draw comparisons to data on a national scale.

recent CBC report found as of Oct. 9, only 6.5 per cent of kids five and under younger had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Flu season arrives

The latest provincial data also shows the number of influenza cases in the province is taking off.

During the week of Oct. 9 to Oct. 15, the province recorded just three confirmed influenza cases, with a test positivity rate of 0.5 per cent.

For the week of Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, the province recorded 192 influenza cases, with a test positivity rate of 21.8 per cent.

So far, the province has reported 278 confirmed cases of influenza this season.

That's a stark contrast to the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: Saskatchewan reported zero influenza cases in 2020.

Statistics for the entire 2021 flu season were not immediately available, but between Aug. 24, 2021, and May 21, 2022, the province recorded 590 confirmed cases.

The latest data dump also shows that Saskatchewan is beginning to hospitalize some patients for influenza.

Three people were admitted to hospital for flu during the week of Oct. 23 to Oct. 29, with one eventually moved to the ICU. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, there were 16 people admitted to hospital for influenza, four of whom were eventually moved to the ICU.

So far, there have been no confirmed influenza deaths in Saskatchewan this season.