Saskatchewan records 17th COVID-19 related death

No new deaths have been reported.

Saskatchewan has added a 17th death attributed to COVID-19.

The resident, who is from the south, tested positive for COVID-19 and was in their 70s.

There were nine new cases reported Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 1,218. The new cases are located in the south (three), Saskatoon (two), north (two) and one each in the central and Regina regions.

Of the province’s 1,218 total reported cases, 294 are considered active. A total of 907 people have recovered. The number of new active cases was smaller than the recoveries for the first time in over a week.

There are 13 people with COVID-19 in the hospital. Eight are receiving inpatient care while five are in intensive care, three in Saskatoon and two in Regina.

Over 93,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed to date, for a rate of 68,474 per million population. Yesterday, 873 tests were performed in the province

Testing numbers have gone up since tests were opened to anyone who requests one. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is “working to ensure responsive service timing,” the province said, adding that residents experiencing worsening symptoms should call their doctor’s office.

Case growth across the country concerning – Tam

Saskatchewan isn’t the only province seeing recent spikes in positive COVID-19 cases. Alberta has also seen a recent upswing, and Canada’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said a nation-wide increase in cases reported daily is something “we must keep a very close eye on.”

The national average of new cases per day is now just below 500, an increase since last week. The national curve does “have an upward direction to it,” she said, a “worrisome” sign.

While each jurisdiction is different, Tam attributed the increase to case growth in western provinces.

“Canadians can do their best by reducing their contacts,” Tam said.

“Keeping our contacts low ensures that if an exposure occurs, public health authorities will be able to manage the intensive process of testing and tracing to keep spread under control. If we overtax public health resources, well, let’s not go there.”

While local measures will continue to vary based on local situations, if provinces are seeing things go in the wrong direction, “they will course correct,” Tam said.

“We will try to open the socioeconomic space as much as possible, but at the same time, forewarning everybody that if people don’t collaborate and support this effort, things could be tightened up against and that is not what we want.”

The provincial government has hinted that it would consider a mask mandate if required in the fall.

“The more outbreaks you have, the bigger the public health capacity is being utilized. That is not a good sign. We need to make sure we take this seriously and see that curve bend back down again,” Tam said.

Meanwhile, in a press release Tuesday, the province reminded people to take care over the August long weekend.

The province asked people to plan activities with their families or individuals in their extended household groups, visit green spaces in and around their community and beat the heat by checking out a Saskatchewan lake.

“Whatever your long weekend plans, remember that public health orders remain in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19,” the province said.

The release included a reminder to frequently wash hands, practice physical distancing, wear a mask in settings where physical distancing can’t be maintained, limit contacts outside your home to your extended household group and stay at home if you’re sick.

“There may be social or peer pressure to attend events that you feel pose an unacceptable amount of risk to you and your family,” the province wrote.

“Decisions not to attend are your own and are not cause for ridicule or shame. Family and friends should understand and respect measures that people are taking to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“You may have to assess the situation as you approach it,” Tam explained Tuesday. “Depending on your risk, you might not want to take the chance.”

Take additional precautions in unpredictable environments, she said, such as “absolutely” wearing a mask “because you don’t know if somebody else is going to impinge on your personal space and if the virus is inside your community.”

Tam said her own personal approach has been to stay inside as much as possible.

“If I was sitting in my home and about to go out the front door, I have to evaluate my own risk. I’m not going to take a risk if that is the case, especially in environments where I can’t control other people.”

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, has made similar comments in the past. He, also, is attempting to keep his bubble small and carries a mask with him at all times.

“I have not ventured out at all,” Tam said in response to a question about advice for going out or visiting a bar. “I go to the grocery store with my mask on and infrequently. I would look carefully at what’s going on in that environment. If it doesn’t look good, I’m not going in.”