Sask. records sixth death related to COVID-19

(Herald file photo)

Updated as of 4:38 p.m., Wednesday, April 29.

Cluster of cases linked to Lloydminster hospital

A sixth person in Saskatchewan has died from an illness related to COVID-19.

The person in their 80s passed away in a La Loche long-term care home, according to Dr. Rim Zayed, deputy medical health officer for the far north region. She said staff had a conversation with the person’s family before his or her passing.

The province also announced 11 new cases in La Loche, making up the majority of the 17 new cases on Wednesday. La Loche now has 38 confirmed cases, along with 11 in a nearby community.

Premier Scott Moe said moving forward, the province has the capacity to test everyone in La Loche if needed. While they won’t be forcing anyone, those who wish to do so will be able to get tested.

Of the other five new cases, four are in Lloydminster and one is in the Saskatoon area.

The new cases in Lloydminster have been linked to a cluster in its hospital. So far, 13 cases have been identified, including five health care workers and eight patients. Transmission has occurred in the hospital setting.

“In the last few days, we have been dealing with a very challenging situation,” said Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, medical health officer for the northern region.

He said the outbreak wasn’t announced until Wednesday because “you have to find the right time” so the community doesn’t panic.

As of Wednesday, says the release, the patients are being cohorted in separate units in the hospital and COVID-19 patients will still be admitted there. 

Non-COVID-19 patients may be diverted to a different hospital. Key emergency services remain available.

Travel restrictions are currently in place in the north to control the spread of COVID-19; however, there’s none preventing people from travelling in and out of Lloydminster.

Moe said this is because the outbreak is limited to one building.

“It’s also our hope that people would adhere to the recommendation from (Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer) Dr. Shahab and not travel interprovincially for recreation,” he said.

Currently, there are 10 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19. Seven are receiving inpatient care—four in Lloydminster and three in Saskatoon—and an additional three people are in intensive care in Saskatoon.

The new numbers bring the province’s total COVID-19 cases to 383, with 86 considered active. The province remains at 291 recoveries.

“The current outbreak in the health facility in the Lloydminster hospital, the current outbreak in the community setting in La Loche, the unfortunate two deaths that we’ve had recently in the long-term care setting are all stark reminders that if we let our guard down, COVID-19 comes back very quickly,” said Shahab.

Wednesday’s provincial news release said recently people have been holdings mass gatherings under the assumption that it’s allowed as long as attendees maintain physical distancing—this is not the case.

Any gatherings that exceed 10 people are in violation of the current public health order. 

Shahab, however, said people outside of the outbreak areas are safe to come in contact with one or two other households.

Since the curve remains flat in most of the province, the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan will continue. Phase one, which begins on May 4, will not begin in La Loche and Lloydminster as previously planned.

Beauval General Store customers asked to self-monitor after employee tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at the general store in the northern Saskatchewan community of Beauval has tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the Northern-Inter Tribal Health Authority and Saskatchewan Health Authority are asking anyone who shopped or bought gas there between Apr. 12 and 27 to self-monitor for symptoms of the virus.

Symptoms include 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, health officials ask you to immediately self-isolate and call HealthLine 811 or your community health centre for an evaluation and advice.