Saskatchewan seeing COVID-19 case counts heading in the right direction

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

In a press availability to update on vaccination and COVID-19 Wednesday, both Health Minister Paul Merriman and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab gave credit to the people of the province abiding by regulations over Christmas. 

“Our new case numbers in Saskatchewan continued to drop over the past week. This may be partially due to fewer people getting tested over the Christmas holiday. But the new case numbers have definitely been trending in the right direction over the past couple of weeks,” Merriman said. 

“I know this is not the kind of Christmas that we were used to but I hope everyone was still able to find ways to celebrate and connect with family and friends,” he added. 

Merriman believes that case numbers are dropping because of the efforts of the Saskatchewan people. He said those efforts have allowed businesses, services and activities to remain open all while controlling the spread of COVID-19. There are currently 2,699 cases considered active in Saskatchewan as of Dec. 31. 

The seven-day average dropped from 292 cases per day on Dec. 12 to 157 in the last update by the province on Dec. 31. 

The number of active cases in the province has also dropped to below 3,000 for the first time since late November. 

“These case numbers are still much higher than we would like but they are trending in the right direction. The restrictions that we have in place are working so I want to thank everyone in Saskatchewan for continuing to follow all of the public health orders and guidelines particularly over the holiday season,” Merriman said. 

Shahab said that reports he heard from friends and colleagues were that Christmas was quiet. 

“People celebrated and connected to friends and family remotely on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. But a lot of people were out and about, the weather was mild and it was great to see families outside greeting friends and neighbors,” Shahab said. 

Shahab explained that while overall numbers have been trending low the test positivity rate remains high at between seven and nine per cent. 

“That shows while we are obviously happy that our overall daily case numbers have remained stable the test positivity rate show that there is a bit of a concern,” he explained. 

He advised anyone with symptoms to seek testing because it informs for isolation for close contacts as while as people with COVID-19. 

“That will be important throughout the holiday season and of course as we start the new year that is going to be very important to continue with those practices,” Shahab said. 

There were 142 people in hospital overall in the province, according to the Dec. 31 report, and Shahab explained that numbers are remaining steady. 

“Our hospitalization numbers there has been an adjustment but they have remained stable for the most part. We haven’t seen them increasing but there is a one-to-two-week lag and so we will be monitoring that closely in January to see if there were any increase in cases beyond what we are able to see at this point,” Shahab said. 

Shahab reminded people in the province to think of health care workers. 

“We have to recognize that whole many of us were able to take some time off over Christmas and New Year’s Eve our friends and colleagues in the health system have been working the holidays,” he said. 

Both Merriman and Shahab expressed their condolences to the family and friends of all 30 people who passed away since the last press conference on Dec. 22.