COVID-19: 18 new Sask. cases, total of 44 — Updated

Pictured is Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. (Screenshot)

Updated as of 5:36 p.m., Saturday, March 21

Saskatchewan has 18 new cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)—17 confirmed and one presumptive—bringing the total to 44 cases as of Saturday.

Twenty-five of the province’s total cases are confirmed and 19 are presumptive. However, moving forward, all cases reported will be confirmed because the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory (RRPL) now has the ability to do confirmatory testing for the virus.

The RRPL is processing over 450 tests per day.

All of the cases, both confirmed and presumptive, are people 20 years old and up, excluding one case which is still under investigation. The majority of the cases are males, at 65 per cent, and females make up 35 per cent of the total.

Public health officials are continuing contact investigations.

“All of those cases are related to either travel or group events, so all of the steps we are taking to date, (it’s) essential that we observe them in terms of quarantine for two weeks after travelling and limitations on gatherings,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

Public gatherings of more than 25 people in one room are prohibited, except when you can maintain a two-metre distance apart. 

On Monday, all restaurants and similar facilities, recreational facilities, personal facilities such as hairdressers and dental, optometrist, chiropractic, registered massage therapy and podiatry clinics are forced to close. Click here for more details.

Shahab said one case involves a person who travelled to another province for a funeral, where people from other parts of the world also attended and had positive test results. 

Of the 22 Saskatchewan attendees at a doctors’ curling bonspiel in Edmonton earlier this month, 11 have tested positive. Shahab said this includes people from Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina. 

“Even as health care workers…we are not immune to this virus in social settings and this is a stark reminder for all of us of the care we need to take immediately in any gatherings.”

Shahab said there are a few cases where an exposure hasn’t been identified.

“There’s no travel, there’s no attendance at a mass event where someone was positive and that is of great concern,” he said.

“If those dots are not connected over the next two or three days, we will have to confirm that there is community transmission in specific locations in Saskatchewan.”

Rosthern doctor and wife get COVID-19 after trip to Alberta

Dr. Jesse Melle took to the Rosthern Medical Clinic’s Facebook page on Saturday to announce he and his wife have COVID-19.

“Even with strict adherence to the recommendations at the time, against our best efforts and with very cautious hygiene, my wife and I still contracted the virus. I have learned that staying home is the only way to keep yourself safe,” said Melle in the post.

“I want to assure you that as soon as I am well, I will be returning to the only thing I know how to do—the thing I love—helping this community to stay healthy. Be kind to one another. Stay well. We are in this together.”

On Friday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said due to staff shortages, the Rosthern Hospital’s emergency and lab services are under a “temporary disruption.”

Derek Miller, SHA’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Lead, couldn’t comment on whether or not the disruption is related to Melle’s case.

He directed anyone in the area needing emergency services to Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital or Saskatoon’s City Hospital, Royal University Hospital or St. Paul’s Hospital.

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback in self-isolation

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback is self-isolating after attending a meeting in Ottawa last Wednesday with someone who’s now tested positive for COVID-19.

That person is David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

After getting a sore throat, Hoback contacted the Prince Albert Health Office, which told him to get tested for COVID-19. He’s expected to receive his results on Tuesday.