One death related to COVID-19 reported Thursday

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There was one death related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Thursday.

The death was in the Saskatoon zone and us in the 80 plus age group. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is currently 411.

There were 115 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Thursday.

The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported three new cases.

Four cases with pending residence information were assigned to the North Central zone.

North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 21 active cases.

North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 34 active cases and North Central 3 has five active cases.

There are currently 136 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 109 reported as receiving in patient care there are six in North Central. Of the 27 people reported as being in intensive care there are none in North Central.

The current seven-day average 128, or 10.4 cases per 100,000 population.

Of the 31,085 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,282 are considered active.

The recovered number now sits at 29,392 after 96 more recoveries were reported.

The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 31,085 of those 7,786 cases are from the North area (3,176 North West, 3,389 North Central and 1,221 North East).

There were 5,430 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 118,195.

There were 178 doses administered in the North Central reported. Doses were also administered in the adjacent North East, North West, Far North East, Far North West, Central East, Central West, South West, Saskatoon and Regina.

Regina far outpaced the other regions with 2,630 vaccines administered. Of the doses administered March 17, 1,904 were delivered at the Regina drive thru clinic location.

There were 2,872 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on March 16.

As of today there have been 620,536 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan.

No new confirmed variant cases reported Thursday

As of today there are no new confirmed variants of concern (VOC) cases to report. This was the second day in a row with no new confirmed cases.

There are currently 135 confirmed variants of concern cases in Saskatchewan with129 B1.1.1.7 (UK) and six B1.351 (SA).

One previously reported B1.1.1.7 (UK) variant case was identified as a duplicate and removed.

The Regina zone accounts for 121, or 90 per cent, of the confirmed VOC cases reported in Saskatchewan.

In addition to the confirmed cases, there are currently 433 presumptive VOC cases reported in the Far North East, Saskatoon, Central East, Regina, South Central and South East zones. Regina is reporting 368 presumptive VOC cases.

Province to move into second phase of vaccination

Starting at noon Thursday residents 67 years and older can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments online or by phone. This move was announced yesterday but confirmed today by the province.

Also included in Phase Two are those considered clinically extremely vulnerable and select congregate living settings such as group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and emergency shelters.

Individuals who may be considered clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter with instructions for booking appointments. ongregate living settings will be contacted about how they may book appointments based on their services and clients, whether online, by phone, or through a mobile clinic.

“While the eligibility categories have broadened into the Phase 2 recommendations, vaccinations and eligibility for individuals identified in Phase 1 will continue until completed. This includes completing all first and second doses for long-term care and personal care home residents and staff,” the release explained.

Special Vaccination Leave introduced by the provinceAlso today the Government of Saskatchewan announced that they have also amended The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 to allow for paid time off from work for an employee to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and are effective immediately.

This Special Vaccination Leave is similar to provisions allowing residents to vote during a general election.

The new section 6-22.1, Special Vaccination Leave, establishes that during the pandemic workers are entitled to three consecutive hours leave during work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and workers are entitled to more than three consecutive hours if the employer determines the circumstances warrant a longer break from work. Workers do not lose any pay or other benefits while receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

"We want to ensure that everyone in the province gets vaccinated," Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said in a release.

"The amendment today ensures workers also have paid time off during the work hours to receive the COVID-19 vaccine." The new regulation comes into force on March 18.

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald