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34 new cases of COVID-19 marks Sask.'s largest single-day increase
REGINA -- The province of Saskatchewan announced 34 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
It’s the largest single-day jump in cases to date. Previously, the province's largest single-day increase was 30 cases reported on March 28.
There are 29 new cases in the far north, four in the north and one in Saskatoon.
The province says Monday’s total includes local presumptive cases from May 2. Those cases hadn’t yet been reported in the province’s total cases.
There are currently 11 people in hospital. Seven people — two in the north and five in Saskatoon — are receiving in-patient care. There are three people in the ICU in Saskatoon and one in the ICU in the north region.
Saskatchewan now has 467 cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, 154 are active.
Two more people have recovered, bringing the province’s total to 307.
Most active cases in the far north
There are 162 cases in Saskatoon, 110 in the far north, 93 in the north, 76 in Regina, 15 in the south and 11 in the central region.
The far north has the most active cases at 97, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the province’s active cases. The north region has 35 active cases.
“While that number is very concerning, it means that increased testing in that area is working,” Premier Scott Moe said at the province’s daily update.
Moe said the province is focused on aggressive testing and contact tracing in the province’s north. There are also temporary living spaces in place for people who need to self-isolate.
The premier said the outbreaks show the importance of maintaining proper physical distancing.
“This virus can and will spread quickly if we let our guard down even for a moment,” he said.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority provided an update on some of the outbreaks in the province on Monday, but said the numbers can change constantly.
SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said there are 76 cases linked to La Loche. There is one positive case at Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert and Livingstone said that case is connected to La Loche. He said there are also seven people isolating, but have not received a positive test for the virus.
Lloydminster Hospital is cohorting COVID-19 patients and sending people who haven’t tested positive to other facilities.
Moe added the province is working closely with northern leaders to help handle the outbreak in northern Saskatchewan.
“We’ve been working very closely with communities to ensure we’re supporting them, to do what we can to stem the spread of this virus,” he said.
First phase of reopening the economy
The first phase of Saskatchewan’s plan to reopen the province began on Monday.
Moe said he is “quite confident” in the plan moving ahead.
“The vast number of communities across this province are pretty quiet when it comes to infections, so we should be moving forward with our reopen Saskatchewan plan,” he said.
Phase one is delayed in Lloydminster and La Loche as they manage outbreaks in the area.
“It will continue on pause in La Loche for some period of time as we have an isolated outbreak in that part of the province,” Moe said.
Residents can now access medical services like chiropractors, dentists and optometrists.
The plan also has information on parks and campgrounds, boat launches and fishing. Camping reservations opened on Monday for June camping dates.
Golf courses can open on May 15 under specific guidelines.
The public health order remains in place that caps gatherings at 10 people. Residents should also maintain two metres of physical distance between themselves and people who don’t live in their household.
“As Saskatchewan opens in a methodical fashion, all these measures that we have been practicing so well as part of our routine now, we need to maintain that,” Shahab said.
Shahab said the province will be watching closely for any unexplained outbreaks.
“If our overall numbers across the province start creeping up and there’s no identified exposure, that would be something that would be a cause of concern,” he said.
Moe said Saskatchewan has laid out a methodical plan that’s slower than other economies in the country.
“That is why we left a number of weeks between phase one and phase two, and no date for phase three,” he said.
Dates will change if there are non-localized outbreaks.
“We won’t eradicate COVID-19 in Saskatchewan until we have a vaccine,” Moe said. “The goal is to minimize the spread of this virus.”
Moe also said the SHA will release a plan to start elective procedures on Tuesday.
The province says 138 cases are from travel, 182 are from community contacts including mass gatherings, 40 have no known exposures and 107 are currently under investigation.
Saskatchewan is reporting a total of 43 cases in health-care workers, but said they may not have been infected on the job.
The are 51 cases in people under the age of 19, 167 in the 20 to 39 range, 152 in the 40 to 50 range, 82 in the 60 to 79 range and 15 people over the age of 80.
For the first time, the province is reporting more infections in women than men. The cases are 49 per cent male and 51 per cent female.
So far, six people have died from COVID-19 complications in Saskatchewan.
The province has performed 32,334 COVID-19 tests to date.
Anyone who is feeling even mild symptoms is encouraged to reach out to health officials for testing.