COVID-19: Sask. reports third death, 9-case increase – Updated

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

Province remains firm on not releasing case numbers in specific communities

Updated as of 4:40 p.m., Wednesday, April 1

A third person in Saskatchewan has died from COVID-19 complications.

A provincial government news release issued Wednesday said the person was in their 80s. 

In a media update later that day, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said none of the three individuals who died—two of which were reported earlier this week—were living in care homes. The other two people who passed away were in their 70s.

With a nine-case increase on Wednesday, the province now has 193 reported cases of the virus.

Four of them are in hospital: one is in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Regina and three are in acute care in Saskatoon.

Nine more people in Saskatchewan have recovered, bringing the total recoveries so far to 30.

On Wednesday, Premier Scott Moe announced he’s extending the provincial state of emergency for another two weeks.

“All of the orders that have been issued to date under the provincial state of emergency will continue. These measures, I would say, are working,” said Moe.

The province said in order to provide clarity around sources, it will now categorize cases by travel, community contact (such as household contacts and mass gatherings) and unknown exposures. 

This is in addition to breaking down the areas in which the cases were tested.

Additionally, public health is actively investigating a number of cases, which will not be categorized until investigations are concluded. 

Eighty-seven cases contracted the virus through travel and 41 through community contacts. Eight have no known exposures, with 57 still under investigation by local public health.

On Tuesday, a family member identified Alice Grove, 75, as one of the deaths. 

Eleanor Widdowson, Grove’s sister, said she believes she contracted the virus on a trip into North Battleford. She lived on a farm just outside of the city.

Widdowson said she believes had Grove known there were cases there, she would have stayed away.

When asked if, considering this, the government is reconsidering releasing information to specific communities outside of Regina and Saskatoon, both Shahab and Moe said it’s not a good idea.

Shahab had previously said they weren’t releasing further information for privacy reasons.

“If there was a community that had no cases, would that mean that I should not practice social distancing or physical distancing there? Absolutely not. Does that mean that people are free to mix among households there? Absolutely not,” he said.

“We cannot rely on test positive numbers by community to dictate our actions.”

Shahab said COVID-19 affects the entire province, not just specific communities. Saskatoon may have nearly half the amount of total cases so far at 94, but Shahab said that number is due to the city’s high population.

Moe donates cost of living increase to P.A. Food Bank, Mobile Crisis

Moe is donating his scheduled salary increase to charities that are under stress because of COVID-19.

Effective Wednesday, Saskatchewan MLAs and cabinet members received a 1.7 per cent increase to their cost of living salaries.

Moe said he’s donating the money to the Prince Albert Food Bank and Mobile Crisis services. He said he’s going to continue to donate to charitable organizations that have an impact on his life and family.

“I would encourage all MLAs, in particular in this time in our province when we are facing in Saskatchewan our version of a global pandemic in the COVID-19 outbreak, to consider donating your increase.”

MLAs receive an annual indemnity of $100,068, according to a list on the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan’s website.

— with Saskatoon StarPhoenix files from Amanda Short