Saskatchewan reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Monday. As the province’s numbers continue to rise a large number of them are connected to Hutterite communities. The province said they continue to work with those communities.
“The Minister of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority continue to work closely with the Hutterian Safety Council as well as leaders in individual communities in a tough situation,” Premier Scott Moe said during Monday’s press availability about the pandemic.
Moe explained that Saskatchewan could add 300 to 400 new cases on Hutterite colonies and bring the infection rate among the province’s estimated 6,000 Hutterites to as high as six per cent if these conditions continue.
“I don’t know that we will have similar numbers in the days ahead, but it wouldn’t be unexpected,” Moe said.
“There is a lag to how this virus works.”
Moe noted that Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding is also working with community leaders across Saskatchewan. He noted that cooperation and taking necessary actions can control the spread of COVID-19.
“They are working together to create public awareness in these communities to ensure everyone is aware of Public Health Guidelines and the practices to protect themselves and to protect others from the spread of COVID-19,”
This includes aggressive contact tracing, testing and insuring that those who test positive self-isolate.
“In these coming days’ public health officials with visit every Hutterite community in the province and inspect compliance with public health orders, and offer testing in Hutterite communities as well as any other support for the community much like we have for other areas of the province. We will be ensuring that the public health order limiting gathering sizes to 30 is being followed in all instances. We will also be ensuring that any affected communities are restricting non-essential travel into and from the community,” Moe said.
“To be clear we have been receiving strong cooperation in many of the communities already. But halting the chain of transmission requires 100 per cent compliance across the province and we are working together to ensure that is the case,” he added.
New positive tests continue to be spread about the province with 10 in the central region, nine in the south, eight in Saskatoon, three in the north. There is also one with a pending location.
Of the 31 cases reported Monday, 22 are from colonies in the southwest and west central regions. Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab noted that cases have gone up from three to five cases a day to the range of five to 10 cases in the general community.
“There is no specific trend that stands out but we always know that when we start traveling more (between provinces) there are cases linked to interprovincial travel,” he said.
Shahab warned to take some precautions when traveling for work or for pleasure. He added that there are some reports of people sharing food or drinks outside of their household cohort. Shahab warned against sharing drinks or food if you are not in the same cohort household.
“It is really important for us to continue to enjoy everything that we are enjoying,” Shahab said.
“We have had reports that people have gone to work when they are unwell or out and engaged in economic or social activities while unwell. And again to reemphasize that at the slightest sign of symptoms, any symptom, stay home,” Shahab said.
Moe explained that mandatory masks could be considered at some point, adding that he carries a mask with him.
“This is a conversation that is escalating. I see it escalating across Canada, I see it escalating in this province, as well,” he said.
“As we enter the fall we all must have one or two masks for every member of the household that we can use,” Shahab said.
“I would really encourage everyone who goes to shop or an indoor area that there are other people around, just put on that mask and really get into the habit of using a mask, I think that will serve us well in the fall.”
During the course of the press availability, Moe said that the plan for school reopening should be available next week. He reiterated what he said last week that school divisions have worked on plans for a return to the classroom in the fall and those plans are now being looked at by the Education Response Team. The Education Response Team includes stakeholders from throughout the education sector and have been in operation since early in the pandemic.
“First and foremost we want to have a safe plan for our children’s return to the classroom and for the staff,” Moe said.
“We are ensuring that this plan will have mechanisms in place that will be able to respond to any future public health concerns that may be identified by Dr. Shahab or the communities.”
Shahab explained that the reopening of schools doesn’t present a higher risk than opening other parts of the economy.
“If all of this had been happening in the fall or the spring, the reopening of schools would have been earlier,” Shahab said.
Of the 1,209 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 307 are considered active.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 remains at 16 in the province.
The recovered number is now 886 an increase of 13 from yesterday.
There are currently 14 people in hospital with illnesses related to COVID-19.
There are 10 individuals receiving inpatient care in the hospital; four in Saskatoon, three in the central, two in the south and one in Regina.
Four people, three in Saskatoon and one in the Regina, are listed in intensive care.
The total number of cases is 1,209. Of those 347 of the cases are from the far north, 264 are from the south, 237 are from the Saskatoon area,134 are from the north, 138 are from the central region and 88 are from the Regina area.
There are currently 61 cases who are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances.
Of the 1,209 cases in the province: 200 cases are related to travel, 613 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 288 have no known exposures and 108 are under investigation by local public health.
The age breakdown shows 183 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 403 cases are in the 20-39 age range, 376 are in the 40-59 age range, 208 are in the 60-79 age range and 38 are in the 80-plus range.
The gender breakdown shows 51 per cent of the cases being females and 49 per cent being males.
As of July 27, 92,796 COVID-19 tests have been performed in the province. Yesterday, an all-time high of 1,613 COVID-19 tests were performed in Saskatchewan.
As of July 25 when other provincial and national numbers were available from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan’s per capita rate was 67,297 people tested per million population. The national rate was 101,145 people tested per million population.
COVID-19 testing is now available to anyone who requests it, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. A referral for testing can be made by contacting HealthLine 811.
Possible COVID-19 exposure at business in Saskatoon
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) issued an advisory Monday after confirmation of a positive COVID-19 individual who was likely infectious while attending a business in Saskatoon.
They warned anyone who attended Benesh, Bitz & Company (Barristors, Solicitors, Mediators and Arbitrators) between July 15 and 26 to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their visit, or seek a testing referral by contacting HealthLine 811.
“In cases where anyone tests positive for COVID-19, a contact investigation immediately follows where public health reaches out to anyone who may be linked to a positive case and provide them with information on testing and self-isolation. If health officials are uncertain that they have identified all known close contacts, they may take further action to notify the community about possible locations where positive individuals may have attended while symptomatic,” the SHA release said.