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Sask. COVID-19 rates rising ahead of anticipated fall surge

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Saskatchewan saw a 73 per cent increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the latest two-week surveillance report.

There were an average of 141 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Sept. 10 and 23, the period captured in the provincial health ministry's report — up from an average of nearly 82 cases over the previous two-week period.

COVID-19 laboratory testing is rare outside of a hospital setting, so the report likely doesn't capture the bulk of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Two deaths were linked to COVID-19 during the most recent reporting period, bringing the total number of deaths to 158 since the beginning of the year. Influenza has claimed two lives since the start of 2023.

There were eleven outbreaks reported in high-risk settings between Sept. 10 and 23, according to the report.

While the health ministry considers just over 46 per cent of Saskatchewan residents "up-to-date" on their COVID-19 vaccinations, the definition only captures those who have had a primary vaccine series and at least one booster.

Federal guidelines recommend a COVID-19 booster if it's been six months since a previous vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection.

According to the province's latest report, just two per cent of people in Saskatchewan over the age of five have received a booster within the last six months.

FALL VACCINE PUSH

On Monday, the Ministry of Health announced that people can receive flu shots starting on Oct. 10.

Although they are available at any time, residents can also receive their COVID-19 vaccinations during the same appointment.

"It's important to remember that you're not only protecting yourself against illness, you're protecting your family and friends as well," Health Minister Everett Hindley said in a news release.

"Getting immunized is proven in the fight against illness and will help keep you and your loved ones healthy."

A monovalent vaccine tailored to fight the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant will be available during the fall immunization push.

While the XBB.1.5 subvariant was responsible for just over 17 per cent of the cases confirmed between Sept. 10 and 23, the monovalent doses should also work against other variants currently in circulation, including EG.5 — which was responsible for 24 per cent of the confirmed cases in Saskatchewan during the reporting period.

Appointments can be booked online at www.4flu.ca or by calling 1-833-727-5829 Monday to Friday.

Vaccines will be administered at public health clinics and some pharmacies and medical clinics.  

Free, at-home COVID-19 rapid tests can still be obtained at a variety of locations including many libraries, Co-op locations and town halls. Nearby locations can be found using an online search tool offered by the province.

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