Sask. reports 9 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 104

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

Saskatchewan’s number of COVID-19 cases is now in the triple digits. That’s after the province reported nine new cases on Friday, bringing its total to 104. 

Of those confirmed cases, six are in hospital: One in the northern region, two in Saskatoon (one in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)) and three in Regina (one in the ICU).

Six are a result of community transmission. This includes one reported on Friday in the central area, which includes Prince Albert.

Three people have recovered so far, although there may be recoveries that haven’t been reported yet by Public Health.

Fifty-seven per cent of the cases are male and 43 per cent are female. Four are 19 years old and under, 49 are between the ages of 20 and 44, 33 are between the ages of 45 and 64 and 18 are 65 and above.

The Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory has performed 7,580 COVID-19 tests to date.

During a media update on Friday, the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said he’s “confident that we have not missed a large amount of community transmission to date.”

Because of restrictions, not everyone who feels they should be tested will get one. Shahab said essential service workers, such as those in health care, and people in long-term care homes are among the people being prioritized.

From the beginning, they’ve been testing everyone who’s been hospitalized for severe respiratory illnesses.

“We all have to conserve testing for people who need it the most,” said Shahab. “It is important that we all recognize them for the work they are doing at the front lines.”

He said if you are well, you don’t need to be tested and if you have a dry cough, you should wait a couple of days to see if it goes away. If symptoms start to get worse or you’re older than 65 and have underlying risks, that’s when you should call HealthLine 811 for a clinical assessment.

Regardless, said Shahab, everyone should be practicing physical distancing. It’s mandatory that returning travellers self-isolate for 14 days.

Scott Livingstone, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO, said personal protection equipment (PPE) is going missing. This equipment includes masks, gloves and gowns.

“We do know that PPE has disappeared through our employees,” he said.

“Even if it’s fear-based—and I get that, there’s lots of fear out there in the public; there’s fear of course in our health care workers—but if that PPE isn’t available when people need it to properly care for COVID-19 patients, they’re putting people’s lives at risk.”

SHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan Shaw said she continues to be confident that the health care system is prepared for a future overflow of patients needing ventilators.

“I think that for the current state that we’re at, considering we have at most one patient with COVID requiring a ventilator, that the system is prepared well,” she said.

Livingstone said the SHA hasn’t been getting the full orders they’ve placed for equipment and other supplies.

Saskatoon Correctional Centre staff test positive for COVID-19, no reported cases among inmates

The Ministry of Corrections and Policing confirmed on Friday that two staff members at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s after the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) raised concerns in a media release earlier that day.

“We have been asking the government for a plan for our corrections officers since the pandemic first broke. We are working with government and, while they are assuring us they are doing everything they can, we need more transparency,” said Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU. 

“More information is needed and we need clarity on actions being taken. The health and safety of front-line staff must be a top concern.”

The SGEU release said overcrowding is leading to challenges for correctional facilities.

In response, the ministry said the staff have been directed by health authorities to self-isolate at home. It’s working with public health authorities to determine who they may have come in contact with and what further measures to take.

The release said at this time, no inmates in provincial correctional facilities have tested positive for COVID-19. However, one unit at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre is on quarantine as a precautionary measure “for what is believed to be a non-COVID-19 illness.”

“The ministry is exploring how to more effectively manage the sentenced offender population in our provincial correctional facilities in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and is using existing infrastructure and program space within correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff,” said the release.

It said a number of measures are already being taken, including restricting movement and placement of offenders and providing corrections staff and inmates with PPE.