Health officials report 181 new COVID-19 cases on Monday

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Health officials reported 181 new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day on Monday, 18 of which are in the North Central area.

North Central Zone 1, which has one of the highest per capita case rate in the province, reported five new cases, while the remaining 13 were in Prince Albert. Another three cases with unknown residency information from Nov. 14 were also assigned to North Central. There are now 96 active cases in Prince Albert, and 227 in the entire North Central area.

The list of new Prince Albert cases included an individual at St. Mary High School. Public health officials have advised all students and staff to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms until midnight Nov 20.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division sent out a media release Sunday night saying the case was considered low risk since the individual did not catch the virus at school, and had not visited St. Mary since Nov. 6. They would not share or discuss additional details due to privacy concerns.

The school division says they’ve already warned at-risk classrooms and cohorts about the possible exposure. Classes resumed as usual on Monday.

An individual at W.P. Sandin Public High School in Shellbrook has also tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials informed Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division about the case Sunday evening. Students and staff who were in contact with the individual must self-isolate until Nov. 24.

Those students will continue on a remote learning program, the school division said in a media release. W.P. Sandin will remain open for students and staff who did not come in contact with the individual.

The school division says there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission at any Saskatchewan Rivers School. They also declined to provide further information about the case citing privacy concerns.

Saskatoon leads province in new and active case numbers

Saskatoon reported the highest number of new cases on Monday with 41 while Regina was second with 32. The Northeast Zone, which includes Melfort, Tisdale and Nipawin, reported 11 new cases, while the Northwest Zone reported 13.

The Far Northeast reported 16 new cases, while the Far Northwest reported 13 and Far North Central reported 5.

There are now 1,928 active COVID-19 cases in the province. Saskatoon has the highest number of active cases with 588, followed by Regina with 338 and North Central with 227. The Northeast Zone has 101 active cases, and the Northwest has 170. There are 108 active cases in the Far Northwest, 74 in the Far Northeast, and 36 in Far North Central.

There are 68 people in hospital with the virus, 16 of which are in intensive care. A total of 3,134 tests were processed on Sunday.

Premier Scott Moe and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab are scheduled to speak to the media at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Moe said on Sunday that COVID-19 was spreading to every part of Saskatchewan. He urged residents to redouble their efforts to stay safe, and said the government was considering additional safety measures.

NDP leader Ryan Meili and opposition education critic Carla Beck called on the provincial government to create a new plan to keep COVID-19 out of the province’s schools.

Meili said the provincial government’s back-to-school plan was the worst one in Canada, and urged them to accept five new measures to help keep students safe. The measures call for more provincial coordination before moving between COVID-19 safe school plan levels, more detailed plans for the remaining $37.5-million in federal school funding, and a dedicated COVID-19 tracing and testing capacity for schools and daycares.

“No one wants another lockdown, or school closures of any duration,” Meili said in a media release. “As a parent of young children, I want my kids in school and daycare, but the disappointing and downright dangerous lack of action to date by the provincial government makes an urgent conversation around our schools doubly necessary.”

When schools opened on Sept. 8 there were 280 total COVID-19 cases involving Saskatchewan residents ages 19 and under. Since then, that number has tripled, with health officials reporting 1,081 total cases in that age group.

Beck said that’s a sign the government has creating “chaos and confusion” for schools, teachers and families.

“The government has not acted in any meaningful manner as case numbers have grown, putting the school year at risk,” she said in a media release. “Saskatchewan families deserve to see a plan to keep schools open in a safe manner. If the government does not act to prevent school closures, the economic effect on families and the educational and social effects on children will be astronomical.”