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19 new Sask. COVID-19 cases, 17 more recoveries
REGINA -- Saskatchewan is reporting 19 new COVID-19 cases and 17 recoveries on Thursday.
Of those new cases, 15 — including 12 in the La Loche area — are in the far north and the other four are in the north.
There are a total of 531 cases in Saskatchewan and 196 are considered active.
So far, 329 people have recovered from the virus.
There are 12 people in hospital as of Thursday. Eight are receiving inpatient care and four are in the ICU.
Far north has most active cases
The far north region now has the most cases in the province, surpassing Saskatoon. There are 167 cases in the far north and 138 are considered active.
Saskatoon has reported 163 total cases. Sixteen are active.
There are a total of 167 in the far north, 163 in Saskatoon, 99 in the north, 76 in Regina, 15 in the south and 11 in the central region.
There are 39 active cases in the north, 16 active cases in Saskatoon and three active cases in Regina. There are no active cases in the south and central regions.
Cases remain low outside of the north
At the beginning of the pandemic, the initial upswing in cases was mostly attributed to travel and outbreaks at mass gatherings. More recently, the province has seen some jumps in total and active case numbers, but those can mostly be attributed to current outbreak situations in communities in the north.
“This just highlights that things have continued to be quiet in most of Saskatchewan,” said Dr Saqib Shahab, the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer.
Case number remain low throughout the rest of Saskatchewan, most notably in the south region that currently has zero active cases.
“Our hope is it is because of hardly any COVID-19 virus [in these regions],” said Shahab.
In these regions with low cases numbers, Dr. Shahab still encourages anyone that develops symptoms to go get tested.
“It is very important for us to not be complacent both in terms of not seeking testing, but not to be complacent in terms of the way we behave,” Shahab said. “If you develop a dry cough, think of testing. If you have a fever think of testing. If you have a runny nose and you think its not your seasonal allergies think of testing.”
Low-risk for health-care workers returning home
In an attempt to curb outbreak situations in the province, some Saskatchewan health-care workers have been reassigned to head north to assist in the fight against the virus.
Health officials assured that these workers should not pose a risk to their home communities, when they return from working in the north.
“As long as appropriate [personal protective equipment], you’re not considered exposed,” said Shahab. “All health-care workers are now undergoing self monitoring, so twice a day symptom reviews and temperature checks.”
Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the SHA, said there is no need for any restrictions for health-care staff returning home as long as the status of patients is known and the proper equipment is being used.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is sending 300 cleaning kits to La Loche, expected to arrive on Friday.
Lloydminster to reopen on May 11
The province says Lloydminster will start to reopen its economy on May 11.
It was delayed in the city because of an outbreak at the hospital which is now “stable,” the province said in a news release.
Businesses that opened in the rest of the province earlier this week under phase one of the Re-open Saskatchewan plan can open their doors in Lloydminster on Monday.
Residents are asked to continue following public health orders.
COVID-19 case breakdown
Of the 531 cases in Saskatchewan, 139 are from travel, 231 from community contacts, 58 with no known exposure and 108 under investigation.
There are 71 cases in people under the age of 19, 188 cases in people between 20 and 39, 163 between 40 and 59, 93 in the 60 to 79 range and 16 over the age of 80.
The cases are half men and half women.
There have been six deaths related to COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
To date, the province has performed 34,361 COVID-19 tests.
Guidelines for forming extended households
Last month, the province said people could form virtual households with one or two other household groups as long as they stay consistent.
The province says groups can be no larger than 10 people.
Two metres of physical distancing doesn’t need to be maintained in the groups unless someone has chronic health conditions. People shouldn’t join extended households with anyone who is at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
In a release, the province also reminded people that people who are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19 should be cautious when taking part in activities as restrictions start to relax in Saskatchewan.
Health officials say people should also know who they’ve been in contact with in the past two weeks for contact tracing purposes.