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Saskatchewan's COVID-19 testing lags behind national average

·2 min read

Saskatchewan's rate of COVID-19 testing is lagging behind other provinces, even as it continues to lead the country in rate of active cases.

According to Health Canada, Saskatchewan's rate of testing per one million people was 274,535 on Monday, compared to the national average of 441,939. Saskatchewan ranked fifth among provinces, behind Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Health Canada
Health Canada

Late last summer, Saskatchewan set out to increase its daily testing capacity to 4,000 tests a day.

Daily testing has only topped 4,000 tests on five days since then:

  • 4,580 (Nov. 21, 2020)

  • 4,251 (Nov. 30, 2020)

  • 5,079 (Dec. 27, 2020)

  • 5,223 (Jan. 2, 2021)

  • 5,833 (Jan. 11, 2021)

In the last week, from Jan. 12 to Jan. 18, the average of daily tests conducted was 2,792.

"Testing is universally available to anyone who requests it, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not," according to the Saskatchewan government's COVID-19 testing information page.

Drive-thru testing locations were opened last fall, as one of the ways "to reach the testing targets of 4,000 tests performed per day," according to the page.

Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said the province needs to be testing more people each day.

"From mid-November to mid-December, we were doing tests on average in the high 3000s per day in the first two weeks; in January, in the low 3000s," Muhajarine says.

"I think we need to ramp up the testing by 30 to 40 per cent, to the mid-4000s, in order to show prevalence of cases closer to the true value."

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, will host the province's latest COVID-19 news conference Tuesday at 3 p.m. CST.