New modeling figures from the Saskatchewan Health Authority regarding the Omicron variant of COVID-19 were released at the Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) technical briefing on Tuesday.
Modeling showed that without Omicron and current public health measures remaining in place, new cases would increase slightly, but would more or less level off.
That being said, with Omicron and stronger health metrics, this modeling predicts a drop in cases around mid-January.
With Omicron and public health measures remaining the same, however, new cases could rise rapidly in the new year.
Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Saqib Shahab, cautioned that the modeling is very preliminary and that there are a number of unknowns when it comes to Omicron. Although it can be transmitted more easily, the medical community is still on the fence about its seriousness.
“If it’s more transmissible and we see twice as many cases and that offsets the benefit of being less severe,” Shahab said.
Hospitalizations told a similar story. Modeling predicts that in the worst case, hospitalizations will increase rapidly with a lag of about two weeks from new cases. There is another two to three week lag between hospitalizations and cases in intensive care.
“Even though many countries don’t see such an increase in hospitalizations, even though they see an increase in Omicron cases, we need to see what their experience is in four to six weeks, especially the UK and some provinces. who are two to four weeks earlier in the Omicron wave of their Omicron wave,” Shahab said.
Shahab added that residents should continue to socially distance, wear a mask and get vaccinated, including the booster.
“Reducing contacts by around 50% is a good strategy to keep our case numbers low as Omicron arrives, and again to minimize non-essential travel between provinces or even within the region as much as possible. province,” he said.
As of Tuesday, there were 82 cases of Omicron in the province, including 10 confirmed cases and 72 probable cases.