Saskatchewan holding the line on prevention despite spike in coronavirus cases

Saskatchewan holding the line on prevention despite spike in coronavirus cases

Saskatchewan is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases unlike anything experienced since the coronavirus pandemic first began four months ago.

On Monday, the reproductive rate of coronavirus (Rt) in Saskatchewan was 2.2, meaning for each person infected they will infect roughly two to three others.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe responded to the growing number of cases saying, “I know we are all some level suffering of pandemic fatigue and most of us have probably been a little less careful than we have in the spring. That may be why we’re seeing a few case numbers starting to creep up again in parts of the province as well, I don’t think it’s any cause for alarm just yet.”

The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, noted that actions needed to be taken to stop what he called an “increasing risk of transmission.”

“We must do what we can to reduce, what is still a fairly low risk of transmission, but certainly an increasing risk of transmission in Saskatchewan,” Shahab said.

By Wednesday Saskatchewan’s Rt had jumped to 2.94 — and the spread in Hutterite communities is even higher.

“The effective reproductive number now for central and south Saskatchewan is 3.19, so concerningly high,” Shahab said.

“With over 300 members, we’re running above a five per cent infection rate in those communities. This is as high of an infection rate as anything I’m aware of in North America, and that is why we’re taking this very seriously,” Moe asserted.

The spread of the virus has led to 18 deaths in Saskatchewan, two occurring this week, both victims from the south region where cases of COVID-19 have climbed by nearly 200 in the past month.

“As expected with the increase in cases, hospitalizations are also trending upwards and this should be a great concern to all of us,” Shahab said.

Saskatchewan’s former deputy medical health officer, Dr. Anne Huang, says she had a great level of concern before Wednesday’s spike in cases.

“The rising rate of community transmission coupled with a much higher rate of social interactions means we’re going to see the case counts rising much faster than we have seen in the past,” she said.

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Huang says she believes there’s still time to get Saskatchewan’s growing outbreaks under control, but that will require stronger regulations, like mandatory masks.

“I can’t think of a good reason why we hesitate, implementing a low cost, low risk, effective intervention to help reduce the community transmission in Saskatchewan, which will allow us to maintain as much of the economic activities and social activity as we can.”
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