REGINA -- Saskatchewan has announced 14 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 86.

Four cases are the result of local transmission and the rest are travel-related, the province said in a news release.


Four hospitalizations related to COVID-19

Health officials say there are four people in hospital related to COVID-19. Two of those people are in the ICU, while the other two remain on acute care floors.

"We don't have enough information regarding, of those four, which were primarily due to COVID-19, which were due to COVID-19 but other underlying illnesses as well, and which were due to primarily underlying illnesses, but then developing respiratory symptoms during their stay," Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.

Shahab added he expects more information as hospitalizations increase in the province.


Four of the 86 cases are people under the age of 19. Sixty-nine cases are people between 20 and 64, while 13 cases are older than 65. The cases are 57 per cent male and 43 per cent female.

So far, the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory has performed 6,270 COVID-19 tests.


Limiting gatherings, public-facing businesses

The province has limited public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people, effective on Thursday.

Officials are also defining how businesses and other critical services can operate during the pandemic.

"I know everyone right now is trying to find the right balance between social distancing and keeping our economy in Saskatchewan," Premier Scott Moe said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Also effective Thursday, some businesses won't be allowed to provide public-facing services. However, they can still operate through an online store or pick-up/delivery services.

Non-allowable services include clothing and shoe stores, flower shops, sporting stores and other retail outlets, along with pawn shops and travel agencies. This is in addition to the services that were ordered to close at the start of the week.

Critical public services can remain open during the pandemic to "prevent supply chain disruption." Critical services include health care workers, law enforcement, first responders, processing and manufacturing companies, transportation, government services, media and construction.

"Each and every one of you needs to know that you are doing your part. Every one of you is part of a massive civil defence effort to protect our people, to protect our families and to protect our province unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetime," Moe said. "We are asking a lot but it is necessary and it will reduce the risk."


Supplies for health care workers

Moe said he has been in contact with other jurisdictions about the availability of supplies, specifically ventilators and N95 masks, for health care workers in the province.

Many N95 masks are produced out of Minnesota.

"It looks like supply will be ramping up so we're hopeful of that not only for us in Saskatchewan, but for all of North America as well at others that access that company," Moe said.

Moe also said he's been speaking with other officials about Canada's capacity for ventilators.

"There are multiple companies in multiple jurisdictions discussing the opportunities to move forward with a Canadian solution to provide ventilators for Canadians first but ultimately even to others in the world," he said.

Shahab said most respiratory illnesses require masks, gloves and gowns for care. He said N95 masks are typically only required in the ICU.

"In the healthcare field, the way care is provided is going through a change for the foreseeable time," Shahab said, pointing to phone consultation for many primary care clinics in the province during the pandemic.

Moe also said many Saskatchewan businesses have donated N95 masks to health care workers.


No outbreaks in long-term care facilities

Shahab said there have been no outbreaks at the province's long-term care homes to date.

"It remains essential to be thoughtful about visiting a loved one in a long-term care facility. Many long-term care facilities only now recommend visiting in extremely rare instances," he said.

Last week, the province limited visitors to long-term care homes, hospitals, personal care homes and group homes to essential visitors for compassionate reasons.