Saskatchewan ICU admissions and death toll continue to rise, while the number of people getting tested for COVID-19 is declining.
Meanwhile, nearly half of the people who are admitted to the hospital for treatment for the virus are only tested for the first time when they arrive for care or soon after, not before.
That’s according to a presentation from the Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) on Wednesday.
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The positivity of the Saskatchewan tests was 12.8 as of October 17. That’s four times the national average and the highest in the country. And according to the Government of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 panel, testing has dropped 46.5 percent between Sept. 19 and Oct. 19.
In late September, Prime Minister Scott Moe announced that Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) staff would no longer test asymptomatic individuals who were not in close contact with someone with COVID-19, who were not affected. for an outbreak recently, they hadn’t. t have had a recent positive antigen test or require transfer or do not require admission to a long-term care home, primary care, social services, or ICU.
An epidemiologist at the University of Saskatchewan said the changes are likely increasing the test’s positivity rate, as the province is testing fewer asymptomatic people who would test positive, while leaning toward people who will test positive. positive in the test.
Nazeem Muhajarine also said that the new testing practices are likely to be missing people who need to be tested.
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“We are likely losing people who are positive but asymptomatic,” he told Global News, adding that some people may just not feel like getting tested.
He said the test’s positivity rate is likely higher than it should be, while the daily case count numbers are lower than they should be.
He said the switch to testing is likely driving more people to get vaccinated as they are less able to get a test for free, and he acknowledged that the province needs to preserve its testing and tracking resources.
But he said some of the measures may hide how COVID-19 is spreading in the province.
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A spokesman for the Health Ministry disagreed.
“The testing system does not increase the positivity rate; a higher number of positivity in the test is related to a higher transmission, ”Jennifer Graham said in a statement.
“That is why we continue to strongly recommend that all eligible individuals get vaccinated. Vaccination has been shown to be the best protection against COVID-19 transmission and disease. “
On October 15, the government announced that SHA was distributing self-assessment kits that would be available this week.
The statement said the tests would be available at participating SHA fire departments, chambers of commerce and testing centers.
The city of Saskatoon issued a press release Monday stating that city fire departments would not distribute tests because stations are closed to the public to limit exposure to COVID-19.
Self-tests and rapid tests are not counted in official statistics. SHA directs anyone who tests positive on such a test to look for a test at a health authority testing site.
Muhajarine said residents will need to look for different methods to find out how COVID is spreading in Saskatchewan.
“We have to trust what’s to come, in the next few days, in the next few weeks, in things like monitoring sewage.”
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