Saskatoon COVID-19 variant numbers climbing, 178 cases reported

Over a span of nine days, variant COVID-19 cases in Saskatoon have surged.

According to the Saskatchewan government's reporting, as of March 29 there were 18 variant COVID-19 cases identified in the city and surrounding area.

In Wednesday's COVID-19 update from the province, 178 cases were reported in the Saskatoon area, as of April 6.

The nine-day rise represents a near-900 per cent increase in reported variant cases.

The COVID-19 information the province shares does not specify how many of the cases are considered active.

Prior to March 30, when the case count jumped from 18 to 46, the number of reported cases in the Saskatoon area had hovered in the teens for days.

The B.1.1.7 variant accounts for nearly all of the nearly 951 cases in Saskatchewan where the variant strain has been positively identified.

The variant, which first emerged in the U.K. last fall, can potentially spread faster and be transmitted quicker than the original COVID-19 strain, according to health experts.

A study released earlier in March also showed the B.1.1.7 variant may result in a higher rate of death than the original novel coronavirus strain.

Regina is the epicentre of Saskatchewan's battle against the coronavirus variant.

According to Wednesday's provincial update, 1,986 cases had been identified in the Regina area as of April 5.

The soaring number of variant cases in the city has led to record-high ICU admissions in the province.

"We’re seeing younger individuals, people with no medical history or medical comorbidities, families being admitted together, families of essential workers and essential workers," Dr. Eric Sy, a critical care physician at Regina’s General Hospital, told CTV News earlier this week.

"Unfortunately, that means that there’s a lot of young people that are sick on ventilators and life support machines. And that’s going to translate to some people not surviving," Sy said.