COVID-19 hospitalizations in Saskatchewan have reached a new all-time high, with 417 people in hospital with the disease as of Wednesday, provincial figures show.
The province's previous COVID hospitalization record was 410 in mid-February. Thursday's update also showed there were 39.5 COVID-like illness patients per 1,000 emergency department visits, an increase from the previous six weeks of reported data (34.2 per week/1,000 visits).
Hospitals across the province are experiencing capacity issues, especially in emergency departments, the Saskatchewan Health Authority previously confirmed to CBC News.
Emergency department doctors in Saskatoon and Regina say that patients continue to fill hospital beds above capacity, with fewer physicians available to take care of them.
Of those in hospital with COVID-19, 25 were in intensive care, the same number as the last weekly COVID report.
22 new COVID deaths reported
The province reported 22 new COVID deaths in Thursday's weekly update. Thirteen occurred within the week of April 10 to 16, and eight occurred in previous weeks (March 24 to April 9) but were reported this week, according to the province. There's no date yet for one of the deaths.
Three of the newly reported deaths were among people 69 years and younger. The rest were among those 70 years or older. Women made up almost 60 per cent of the deaths.
There have been a total of 1,295 COVID-related deaths from March 8, 2020, to April 16, 2022, in Saskatchewan, according to the province.
There were 18 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities and care home settings in Saskatchewan reported between April 10 and 16.
New COVID treatment option available
The Saskatchewan government also announced on Thursday that a new COVID treatment option is available.
Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral that stops the virus from multiplying in cells and can reduce the likelihood of hospitalization, will be available on an outpatient basis.
People who are eligible for the treatment include those who are immunocompromised and adults who are not fully vaccinated.
"While Saskatchewan supports antiviral treatments for those most at risk for severe illnesses, they are not a cure and do not prevent COVID-19 transmission," the government wrote in a release.
"Vaccination remains the best tool available to prevent hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19."
Saskatchewan's vaccine booster campaign has stalled. Since early February, the percentage of eligible people over 18 with their first booster dose has hovered around 50 per cent.
On Feb. 1, 48.56 per cent had a first booster dose. In the data reported Thursday, it's at 51.7 per cent.