Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says to remain vigilant in preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19, which could come as the weather cools.
In a news conference on Thursday, Dr. Saqib Shahab said the province has kept numbers low since the pandemic struck Saskatchewan in March. Now, people may be facing “COVID fatigue,” but it’s important to keep following guidelines as people head indoors.
When the economy started to reopen in May, said Shahab, cases increased less than the government suspected.
“The key is how do we sustain that over fall and winter?” he questioned.
“There will be an occasional cluster, and it’s no one’s fault and we should understand that and learn from that,” said Shahab. “We need to constantly look and readjust our practices based on what we learn.”
Shahab said that transmission in retail settings is fairly low. The risk of contracting the virus is greater in social situations, he said, such as family gatherings.
At those types of events in particular, he encouraged the public to keep yourselves distanced from each other as much as possible and to avoid buffet-style meals.
Another preventative measure is wearing a mask when you can’t maintain that two-metre distance in public places.
When asked about his response to anti-mask groups, Shahab said wearing one “is a simple thing to do.”
Dozens protested in Regina and Saskatoon in July as part of a country-wide movement called ‘March to Unmask.’ Most recently, media have been reporting on a Saskatoon business that posted a sign on its door reading ‘No face masks allowed.’
“Our health care providers have been (wearing masks) for the last seven months; people who work in grocery stores have been doing this without complaining,” said Shahab.
“What it says is that ‘I am keeping myself safe, but I am protecting you as well.’”
Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said it’s continuing to monitor the amount of personal protective equipment and ventilators available in case of another wave.
“We still are tracking all of that and ensuring that regardless of what comes our way, we’re building capacity, preparing for a surge, and unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball to know what that’s going to look like,” said Livingstone.
He said Saskatchewan has also been lucky to have a low number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
Shahab said it’s “heartening” to see parents and school staff promote preventive measures, like mask use, as children returned to the classroom this week.
The government said on Thursday that it will be providing a weekly report on its website, detailing testing numbers and cases in children between the ages of zero and 19. This is to provide more information about the trends of COVID-19 cases in schools.
The first report will be released on Sept. 17, which will include numbers for the week of Sept. 6 to 12.
If an outbreak is declared, all parents of that particular school will receive notifications. It will also be posted at saskatchewan.ca/COVID-19/Latest-Updates.
Six new cases reported on Thursday
The provincial government reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday in the Far North East (one), Saskatoon (one), Central West (one), Central East (one) and Regina (one) areas. The location of one case is pending.
The North Central 2 zone, consisting of Prince Albert, is sitting at four active cases.
Of the 1,676 reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 59 are considered active. With six more recoveries on Thursday, 1,593 people have recovered from the virus so far.
As of Thursday, one person with COVID-19 is hospitalized. The patient is receiving inpatient care in Saskatoon.
On Wednesday, 1,120 COVID-19 tests were performed in Saskatchewan. So far, 153,649 tests have been done in the province.
SHA flags Saskatoon, Regina businesses for possible COVID-19 exposure
The SHA is alerting the public of possible exposure to COVID-19 at Saskatoon and Regina businesses.
Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 visited the following while likely infectious:
- Old Navy at Preston Crossing Saskatoon on Aug. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Hudson’s Bay Midtown Plaza Saskatoon on Sept. 7 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
- North YMCA, Rochdale Avenue, on Sept. 6 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
- Regina Airport and Enterprise at Airport (pickup on Sept. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., drop off on Sept. 7 from 7 to 8 p.m.)
- Taylor Lexus Toyota Body Shop on Sept. 8 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
- AK Tire, 2220 Seventh Ave. on Sept. 9 from 2:15 to 2:30 p.m.
- Harbour Landing Walmart on Sept. 9 from 3:30 to 4 p.m.
Public health officials ask anyone who was at these locations during the listed times to immediately self-isolate if they’ve recently had or currently have COVID-19 symptoms—this includes a sore throat, nasal congestion, dizziness, difficulty breathing and chills.
You’re also asked to call HealthLine 811 to arrange testing.