Saskatchewan is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19, but the province’s chief medical health officer says a sixth wave has not arrived.
Dr. Saqib Shahab said Thursday the uptick is likely to last until mid-May or early June before cases start to level off.
Quebec has declared it is in a sixth wave, but Shahab said Saskatchewan needs to analyze more data over the next few weeks before making that call.
“We may see waves of varying intensities if Omicron [remains] the variant that is circulating,” Shahab said. “We may see a bit of resurgence now, it may quiet down over the summer, and then a resurgence in the fall.”
Saskatchewan’s test positivity rate is about 13 per cent, so the risk of catching COVID-19 is moderate, said Shahab.
The test positivity rate was around 14 per cent when Saskatchewan lifted its public health orders in mid-February.
Shahab said that although the province has no mandates in place, people need to remain vigilant throughout April and May. He said the resurgence is being fuelled by more people mixing at work, recreationally and socially.
He recommends people get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask around others, use rapid tests and stay home when sick, even if negative for the virus.
“All those things have an impact on how the fifth wave will end or if we get into a sixth wave, and how that will play out.”
Data from the Ministry of Health shows hospitalizations have risen 18 per cent in the last three weeks with 354 people in hospital, including 20 in intensive care.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said hospitals remain challenged because of a shortage of health-care workers and burnout, but there’s still capacity for COVID-19 patients. He said hospitals were 94 per cent full Thursday and intensive care units were at 74 per cent capacity.
The Opposition NDP said the Saskatchewan Party government needs to do better at promoting vaccinations to protect people from getting seriously ill and hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“We’re getting farther and farther out from boosters or second doses ... and it increases the risk for those getting infected,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said.
Vaccination rates have plateaued with 80 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated. Just over 50 per cent of those entitled to a booster shot have had one.
Shahab said next week the government will reveal its plans to expand fourth vaccine doses to more people.
Residents of long-term care, special care and personal care homes, recipients of stem cell and organ transplants, and the severely immunocompromised are already able to get one.
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