First UK COVID-19 variant reaches Saskatchewan

In its daily update on COVID-19, the province says the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant which has been showing up across Canada has now hit Saskatchewan.

The variant (B.1.1.7) was detected in two residents in the Regina zone.

“We know this is a more contagious variant which serves to reinforce to each of us why we need to keep doing what we know works to reduce the spread of this virus regardless of what variant it is,” said Moe during Tuesday’s provincial update in Regina.

The contact investigation has determined one case has travelled from the United Kingdom and the second is a close contact of the traveler. These individuals were tested mid-January.

Both residents quarantined following the travel and are now no longer infectious. Public health’s contact investigation indicates that all contacts of these residents have been identified and there is no indication of further transmission.

However Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab noted how the UK variant is one of three that are labelled as variants of concern since they are easily transmissible. The others are the South African variant (B. and a variant first found in Brazil.

“Many countries are concerned about community transmission of variants not linked to travel,” he stated. “Everything we are doing right now is everything that is important to minimize the transmission of any COVID strain, whether it’s a variant of concern or the pre-dominant strain right now in Canada.”

While the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory is testing travelers for variants of concern, those tests must be genome-sequenced at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. According to the government, the process can take one to two weeks.

Meanwhile, the active case count has dropped again after a day where 223 new cases and 266 recoveries occurred.  The active case count is now at 2,320.

It has not been that low since November 20, 2020 when there were 2,145.  There are eight new deaths to report on as well bringing the provincial total to 314.

Daily COVID-19 cases map for February 2, 2021

One reported death was in the 40-49 age group in the North West (1) zone; one reported death was in the 50-59 age group in the Regina (1) zone; two reported deaths were in the 60-69 age group in the North West (1) and North Central (1) zones; two reported deaths were in the 70-79 age group in the Saskatoon (1) and South East (1) zones; and two reported deaths were in the 80+ age group in the Saskatoon (1) and South East (1) zones.

The new cases are located in the Far North West (14), Far North Central (8), Far North East (8), North West (18), North Central (28), North East (7), Saskatoon (38), Central West (6), Central East (3), Regina (65), South Central (7) and South East (8) zones, with thirteen (13) cases pending residence information.

The seven-day daily average now sits at 227 or 18.5 cases per 100,000 population. That is the lowest it has been at since January 6 when the number was 219.

106 vaccines were administered on Monday meaning 35,575 people have been inoculated.

The premier noted how the province continues to be at a standstill as there have been no vaccine shipments received in Saskatchewan in over a week now. However more doses will be arriving this week.

“We expect to receive our next shipment of 5,850 Pfizer doses over the next day or two. They will be used to do second shots in North Battleford, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, as well as first shots in the community of Moosomin.”

Moe added that 6,000 Moderna doses will arrive later this week – down from the initial 6,500 that were expected – and will be used for second shots in the Far North and North West regions, along with first shots in west central communities including Kindersley and Rosetown.

(With files from Moises Canales)

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