Final update as of 9:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 25.
Saskatchewan has 14 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the province’s chief medical health officer says residents should be prepared for even more.
Both Dr. Saqib Shahab and Premier Scott Moe both warned residents that as more and more Canadians return from international travel, case numbers could grow even higher. Both urged returning Saskatchewan residents to observe strict self-isolation and self-monitoring measures to protect their families, friends and communities.
“If it isn’t in our community today, it likely will be at some point in the very near future and our actions, with respect to how we social distance between one other (and) how we interact should be with that in mind,” Moe told reporters during a Wednesday afternoon briefing.
“There may be at times regional outbreaks, and people living in that region likely should know there has been a regional outbreak in a particular … region. I think, in fairness, we should all act like it is in our community, because it quite likely will be in the future.”
Shahab said a “significant number” of Saskatchewan cases are connected to two major events: a dental conference in Vancouver and a curling bonspiel in Edmonton. Most of the others are related to international travel or household transmission.
He also stressed that some cases are so mild people won’t know they’re sick until the third of fourth community transmission, so residents need to be vigilant in self-monitoring and self-isolating.
“We will see more people returning—who can and should return—back to Canada (and) because of that, we will see a proportion of people who are returning test positive,” he said. “As long as they are self-isolating for two weeks we should see no further transmission in the community.”
The government has not confirmed whether all new cases are travel related as investigations are still ongoing.
Shahab said they were testing “extensively” to try and find hotspots in the province. That includes strict testing in hospitals and long-term care homes. There are currently four COVID-19 patients in hospital due to underlying medical conditions unrelated to the virus. To date there are no cases in long-term care homes.
The 14 new cases mean Saskatchewan now has 86 confirmed COVID-10 cases.
Of those 86 cases, 69 are between the ages of 20 and 64, while 13 are ages 65 and over and four are under the age of 19. To date, 6,270 tests have been performed in Saskatchewan.
Shahab and Premier Scott Moe fielded numerous questions from reporters about the lack of information on new COVID-19 cases. Unlike previous updates, Wednesday’s briefing did not include information about the ages or testing locations for the 14 new COVID-19 patients.
The province has also declined to release the gender of individual patients, but says roughly 57 per cent of all confirmed Saskatchewan cases are male and 43 are female.
Moe told reporters he’s talked with health minister Jim Reiter about being more transparent in the future about ages, genders, of patients and whether or not they’ve recovered.
“We are endeavoring to get to a higher degree of transparency on those types of reporting and we’re attempting to get there as soon as we can,” Moe explained.
Editor’s Note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that four of the province’s 14 new cases were local transmissions. The provincial government is still investigating whether those cases are local transmissions or related to travel.