Over the next week, Saskatchewan should start receiving an indication of how well the COVID-19 restrictions worked over the holidays.
The province saw its seven-day average for daily new cases drop to as low as 152 over the holidays, but that number is increasing again, sitting at 214 as of Tuesday, which could be a sign a post-Christmas spike is on the way.
"What we might be seeing in the coming days is increased numbers of cases due to lapses in that normal behaviour or not adhering to the restrictions as much as we should have," Dr. Cory Neudorf, an epidemiology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said.
Saskatchewan saw a large jump in its test positivity rate on Monday with just over 19 per cent of tests coming back positive.
The test positivity rate has hovered around 10 per cent since Christmas as case numbers have remained steady while the number of tests being performed have dropped.
Saskatchewan has averaged 1,768 tests per day since Christmas Day, which is down from an average of 2,919 over the first 24 days of December.
"Which means we probably didn’t pick up all the positives that we normally would have over the holiday period, so even that little drop [in daily case numbers] we saw might not have been a real drop," Dr. Neudorf said.
Dr. Dennis Kendal, a health policy consultant, said people were less likely to go get tested over the holidays.
"There was probably less inclination for people to go out to be tested unless they were symptomatic and quite worried," he said.
Since adjusting its hospitalization count on Dec. 24, Saskatchewan has seen new record highs for people hospitalized with the virus and being treated in intensive care.
Dr. Kendal said those are the numbers residents should watch moving forward, especially with the U.K. variant of the virus potentially leading to a higher transmission rate.
"We haven’t yet seen how that might translate into higher demand on our hospital system, if it does then I think we are facing some greater challenges than we have to date because our system is quite strained at the moment," he said.
Kendal added that possibility means there’s added importance to vaccinate health care workers as quickly as possible.
To date, 4,254 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in the province.
The Government announced on Tuesday that it has completed its pilot phase of the vaccine rollout in Regina and is 90 per cent done in Saskatoon, while the vaccination of long-term care residents and health care workers in the Far North region has begun.