Sask. records 20 more cases of COVID-19, 18 in La Loche area

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

Updated as of 6:56 p.m., Tuesday, May 5.

Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 cases grew by 20 on Tuesday, 18 of which are related to outbreaks in northwest communities. The other two new cases are in the northern region.

These new numbers bring the province’s total to 487 reported cases—with 310 people recovered and six resulting in deaths, 171 of those are considered active.

There are currently 13 people in hospital with illnesses related to the virus. Nine are receiving inpatient care, two in the north and seven in Saskatoon, and four are in intensive care, one in the north and three in Saskatoon.

During a Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) new conference on Tuesday, CEO Scott Livingstone provided an update on the province’s outbreaks.

He said the SHA is committed to doing so after a days-long delay in the announcement of an outbreak in Lloydminster. There were no new cases in that city reported on Tuesday.

Livingstone said five cases in Tuesday’s figures are in La Loche, while 13 are in surrounding communities.

One of the northern cases is “associated with Prince Albert,” he said, but it’s not related to the outbreak in the Victoria Hospital. So far, all patients and health care workers identified as contacts of the single positive case in the hospital have tested negative.

Public health officials have declared an outbreak at a dairy facility in the Saskatoon region after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

“An active case investigation is underway and based on that investigation, there has been no identified need for a public service announcement because of low transmission risk to the public,” said Livingstone.

The current effect reproductive number in the province is .97. This means that, on average, one positive case will transmit the virus to less than one other person.

“We’re concerned that this number is increasing and are monitoring it very closely,” said Livingstone.

“It’s important to understand that every person’s actions contribute to helping us ensure that we can control the spread of COVID-19 and that’s what really an effective reproductive number is all about.”

He reminded Saskatchewan residents to continue physical distancing and washing your hands.

Given the high number of cases in outbreak areas, but fairly low numbers in the rest of the province, Senior Medical Information Officer Dr. Jenny Basran said the SHA is working on effective reproductive numbers for specific locations.

“It does measure beyond the cases. It kind of gives us a sense of the underlying situation,” she said, including how well people are following restrictions and how many may be asymptomatic.

However, she said, the public must keep in mind that people are still travelling throughout the province for personal reasons or as patients.

“We have to still recognize that it’s connected—What affects one area will affect other areas.”

Of the 487 cases in the province:

• 138 cases are related to travel, 184 are community contacts (mass gatherings included), 41 have no known exposures and 124 are under investigation by local public health.

• 43 cases are health care workers; however, the source of the infections are not related to their work environments in all instances.

• 162 of the cases are from the Saskatoon area, 128 are from the far north, 95 are from the north, 76 are from the Regina area, 15 are from the south and 11 are from the central region.

• 58 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 174 cases are in the 20-39 age range, 153 are in the 40-59 age range, 87 are in the 60-79 age range and 15 are in the 80-plus range.

• 51 per cent of the cases are females and 49 per cent are males.

La Ronge reverses decision to be exempt from northern travel ban

The Town of La Ronge initially asked to be exempted from the province’s travel ban between communities in the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. Now, it’s switching gears.

Mayor Ron Woytowich said he supported the original motion to request an exemption without first consulting partnering communities.

“We work together for so many things. We have one fire department and it goes everywhere. We have one garbage dump and everybody uses it. Same with the water. And then suddenly we didn’t even bother working with them on something as important as that and I really feel bad about that, I personally do,” he said.

Until the request is approved by the province, its exemption to the travel restrictions remains in place.

Stony Rapids is also exempted by request.

Meadow Lake Co-op employee tests positive for COVID-19 over weekend

The SHA is warning the public that someone at the Meadow Lake Co-op Service Centre has tested positive for COVID-19.

The general manager released a letter, dated May 2, saying the employee received positive test results over the weekend. The letter said they reported symptoms and began self-isolating early last week.

Public health officials are advising customers at the Co-op on Sunday, Apr. 26 or the morning of Tuesday, Apr. 28 to self-monitor for symptoms of the virus. This includes fever, headache, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose and a diminished sense of smell or taste.

If you have any of these symptoms, public health officials ask that you self-isolate immediately and call HealthLine 811 or your community health centre for an evaluation and advice.

— with files from Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer