Updated for the final time at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12.
Health officials reported five new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, all of which are in the far north.
Two of those new cases are in La Loche, while the other three are in the Beauval area.
Another 11 people have recovered from the virus, meaning there are now 193 active COVID-19 cases in the province. That’s down from 199 active cases on Monday, 180 of which are in the north or far north. There are no active cases in Regina or the south region. That includes the communities of Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Weyburn.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, echoed comments he made on Monday, telling reporters the outbreak in the far north was winding down. However, he once again urged residents in all parts of the province to maintain strict social distancing.
“We have seen from many other jurisdictions that even when you start re-opening, you have to be diligent about maintaining your physical distance,” Shahab said. “That will be essential as we move forward into the new normal.
“While things are very quiet in the south of Saskatchewan, we have to make sure that … anyone with even mild symptoms anywhere in the province steps forward for testing.”
Testing numbers fell for the third straight day on Tuesday, with health officials reporting 256 new tests conducted. That’s well below the 941 new tests reported on May 9 and 743 new tests reported on May 10.
Health experts say there is less demand for testing, especially in the southern half of the province, and that’s a sign their public health measures are working. However, they’re also concerned COVID-19 patients are being stigmatized, which means fewer people will go in for testing.
“People, especially in small communities where confidentially is a concern, have reported that they do not want to be tested if they can be identified as having COVID-19,” said Dr. Julie Kryzanowksi, Senior Medical Health Officer for the Saskatchewan Health Association. “We know that stigma is not something that affects just individuals, but whole communities as well.”
Kryzanowski said Saskatchewan residents need to be proactive in eliminating the stigma around COVID-19 testing. Anyone who self-isolates and gets tested is doing their communities a huge service, she explained, and they should be applauded for it.
“It is natural to be concerned and sometimes even fearful about COVID-19, but in some cases, people are fearful of admitting symptoms and getting tested, and I am very concerned about that,” she said.
“Northern Saskatchewan and some Indigenous communities have been hit extremely hard by COVID-19 in the past few weeks, just as the southern parts of the province were hit earlier this year. The fact is, this virus is extremely contagious. Anyone could get it, young and old alike. We should be celebrating those who are heading into the testing centres. They are doing their part.”
There are still 11 COVID-19 patients in hospital. That number is unchanged from Monday. Three of those patients are in intensive care. All ICU patients are in Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan has had 573 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, 295 of which were community transmissions. Another 139 cases were linked to travel, and 64 had no known exposure. There are 75 cases still under investigation by public health officials.