524 COVID-19 tests performed in Sask.
REGINA -- UPDATE: The province announced Monday that all classes in Saskatchewan pre K-12 schools will be suspended indefinitely, effective March 20, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
One case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Saskatchewan, with five more presumptive positive cases awaiting laboratory confirmation.
The confirmation process for presumptive cases of COVID-19 takes approximately three days.
The most recent data from the government show 524 total tests for the virus performed within the province.
Saskatchewan schools will remain open for the time being as the number of COVID-19 cases rise in the province.
The decision whether to keep schools open or not rests in the hands of the provincial Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“Any recommendation to close schools is based on risk assessment and made on a case-by-case basis,” said Shahab.
“The decision to close schools should not be made in the absence of valid public health reasons and the benefits and risks need to be considered carefully.”
The criteria for school closures includes evidence of sustained transmission of the virus within the community, rapid increase of local cases and transmission without a known link to travel or confirmed cases.
Shahab said with most of the current cases believed to be travel-related, there is no reason to consider closing schools at this time.
If any concerns exist at certain schools in the province, smaller scale measures could be taken on a case-by-case basis to decide if an individual closure is needed.
“If in the future there were any reasons to consider broader school closures as part of more community quarantine measures that will be considered, but again at this point there is no reason to consider that,” said Shahab.
The Saskatchewan NDP held a press conference later in the day Sunday and said the closure of schools in the province is inevitable.
The opposition party is calling for adequate cleaning supplies to be brought into all schools until that happens, along with additional supports for school workers and families.
"We want to ensure that that compensation is in place for those employees, and there's support for parents should they have to keep their children at home," said NDP education critic Carla Beck.
The government wants to remind everyone to take measures to maintain social distancing and keeping children out of school if they are sick.
The positive COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are still mostly travel-related and the province said there is no sustained community transmission at this time.
The province wants to remind people that not everyone who has symptoms needs to be tested, in efforts to preserve resources.
“Monitor yourself very closely for two weeks, don’t go to school or work if you’re symptomatic,” said Shahab. “That is really important for us to keep top of mind, both for international travel and also for travel from within Canada.”
If you have potential COVID-19 symptoms, call the provincial health line at 8-1-1, to get advice and more information.
“We want to conserve tests for people who actually need it,” said Shahab. “Not everyone who has come from other parts of Canada will be recommended testing, it really depends on what kind of setting you were in.”
Shahab also highlighted the province’s self-assessment tool that can be used to determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19.
On Saturday evening, the Saskatchewan Government announced four new presumptive cases, bringing the total to six.
Of the four new cases, three were recorded in Regina while the fourth was identified in northern Saskatchewan.
Two of the presumptive cases are two people in their 40s living in the same household in Regina. One recently travelled to Vancouver for a dental conference where one of the attendees was confirmed to have COVID-19. The pair was tested on Friday and are self-isolating while they recover.
The third person tested in Regina is in their 20s and has a history of travel to Tennessee. They are also self-isolating.
The fourth case from Northern Saskatchewan is a health care worker in their 30s, with a history of travel to Nigeria and Germany, as well as Alberta. This person is recovering in northern Saskatchewan.