With the number of cases of COVID-19 rising in Saskatchewan, the government is reminding residents to follow public health guidelines, get vaccinated, and use rapid testing at home. Meanwhile, the Opposition NDP says the government isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The provincial government reported 735 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the largest single-day number of cases since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020. The jump in the number of cases saw the number of active cases throughout the province climb to 2,844. 

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 held steady at 79, and there were 12 people in intensive care receiving treatment for COVID-19, down by two from Thursday. No deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported. 

The test positivity rate on Friday was reported at a staggering 26.1 percent. This comes as the province announced those who are asymptomatic and vaccinated who test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test are no longer recommended to get a confirmation PCR test.  

When looking at the new cases by vaccination status, per capita, the new cases broke down as 223.3/100k were people who are unvaccinated, 5.9/100k are partially vaccinated, and 23.7/100k are fully vaccinated.  

The geographical breakdown of the new cases saw 286 in the Saskatoon region, and 180 in the Regina region. There were 58 new cases in the South East region, 50 in the Central East, 47 in the South Central, 23 in the North Central, 21 in the Central West, 19 in the North West, nine in the Far North West, seven in the North East, and four in the South West.  

Ahead of the numbers that were released Friday, Premier Scott Moe stated higher case numbers are expected due to the contagiousness of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and that the more important numbers they are tracking are hospitalizations and ICU admissions.  

He added while Omicron is more contagious, it is proving to be a milder strain of COVID-19, particularly for those who are fully vaccinated and have even received a booster shot. 

“If you haven’t done so already, get vaccinated and get your booster as soon as you can,” Moe said. “Pick up a box of rapid tests and test yourself from time to time. There are plenty of vaccination appointments and plenty of rapid test kits available at locations all across Saskatchewan.” 

The Opposition NDP, however, says the provincial government is moving backwards when it comes to curbing the spread of COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant. 

“We’re the only province with no capacity limits,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowatt. “We’re vulnerable because we have the lowest vaccination rates in the country.” 

The provincial government has stated no numbers will be released over the next three days, with an update next expected on January 4th.