SASKATOON -- The number of variant coronavirus cases identified in the Saskatoon area continues to climb, topping the 500-mark on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday's provincial update on case numbers, the Saskatoon area had 543 known variant cases of COVID-19, up from 497 on Tuesday.

The cumulative total of variant cases has risen 65 per cent from the count seven days prior when the number of confirmed variant cases sat at 328 on April 13, according to the province's reporting.

The COVID-19 information the province shares does not specify how many of the cases are considered active.

As of Wednesday's update, with the addition of 68 new cases, there were 513 active cases of COVID-19 in the Saskatoon area.

The province does not say what proportion of the cases are connected to variant coronavirus strains.

There were 47 people in hospital in Saskatoon as of Wednesday's update and eight in intensive care due to COVID-19.

The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., accounts for nearly all of the cases in Saskatchewan where the strain has been identified.

Health officials say the variant can potentially spread faster than the original coronavirus strain.

A study released earlier in March also showed the B.1.1.7 variant may also result in a higher rate of death.

Five cases of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, were confirmed in the province earlier this week.