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37 more COVID-19 deaths reported in Sask. last week

Saskatchewan reported 37 more COVID-19-related deaths in the province’s weekly update for Feb. 13-19.

The deaths were reported in the North West (one), North Central (nine), North East (two), Saskatoon (six), Central East (four), Regina (seven), South West (one) and South East (seven) zones.

Of the 37 deaths, 36 were over the age of 60. One was in the 20-39 age range.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said booster shots remain the best defence against COVID-19, especially in those who are over the age of 70.

“We need to continue to be careful around visiting our loved ones in their homes or in long term care or personal care homes and assisted living facilities,” Dr. Shahab said. “With the end of orders, we want to increase the ability of friends and family to visit their parents and grandparents in all these settings, as well as in people’s homes. I think it’s always good to test yourself or see if you’re fine to go in. If there’s any outbreak or transmission, choose to wear a mask.”

Shahab said those over 70 who are out in public should continue to wear their best mask that fits well, especially in crowded places.

Epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Mahajarine said in other countries, like Denmark, communities keep their elderly populations safe by being courteous.

“They’re very careful when they are exposing themselves to vulnerable people,” Mahajarine said. “If you’re going to visit a place that is a congregated setting where long term care residents live and so on, they’re very careful about taking precautions before they mix across generations and with vulnerable people.”

He said we “don’t have that ethos” in a way that is second nature. He said people should wear masks and complete a rapid test before meeting indoors with vulnerable people.

“This is what we need to do, but we are still learning how to do this,” he said. “We need clear, consistent and data-driven messaging that we can understand and act on. They’re all connected.”

A total of 372 people are in hospital with COVID-19, a drop of 38 patients from last week’s report. Twenty-seven people are in ICUs.

Of the 372 hospitalizations 149 are a COVID related illness, 204 are an incidental COVID infection and 19 have yet to be determined.

Dr. Shahab said despite the decline, hospitals are still feeling the pressure from COVID-19 admissions and likely will for a few more weeks.

“Saskatchewan is not unique in that and I think that’s why we should do everything we can, even though public health orders are ending, and the best thing we can do to prevent hospitalizations is get a booster dose,” Shahab said. “It is trending down so that’s a positive sign. We hope to continue to see that. Obviously the Saskatchewan Health Authority has to balance meeting the needs of COVID-19 patients but also continue to resume other services.”

There were 1,407 new confirmed cases, reflecting about 1.2 lab-confirmed cases per 1,000 population.

There were also 162 variants of concern reported. Of that number 100 per cent were identified as Omicron.

As of Feb. 19, 80.1 per cent of the eligible population has received two doses of vaccine, 50.4 per cent have received at least one booster dose.

All remaining public health orders are still set to end on Feb. 28.

Dr. Shahab said people should move forward in whatever way they are most comfortable.

“I think just being careful around people at high risk. Sometimes it may be someone in class or you are visiting someone that’s immune suppressed or has other risk factors, just being extra careful around them,” Shahab said. “I will still keep my best mask and wear it in crowded, indoor locations if it’s not with people I’m usually with.”

He said it’s a month of transition, but he hopes to continue to see a downward trend.

“I think things are looking good,” Shahab added. “Some people are really looking forward to not having to wear a mask all the time, some have some concerns and I think we all need to take this at our own pace and our own comfort level.”

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the provincial state of emergency will continue after the end of the month and will be extended the day remaining restrictions lift.

The state of emergency remains in place to assist with the movement of health care staff around the province. Top Stories

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