As Sask. COVID-19 cases rise, infection rate could grow further in Hutterite colonies
REGINA -- Hutterite communities in Saskatchewan could see a high infection rate in the coming days as the province continues to see growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Premier Scott Moe said it’s possible there could be additional cases in Hutterite communities, given more people will be tested in the coming days.
“If we approach 300 to 400 individuals that would be identified in the coming days, and we may, we are looking at a four, five or six per cent infection rate. That’s a tremendously high infection rate,” Moe said.
“It’s something we are taking very seriously.”
The potentially high rate comes after the province reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with the majority being in Hutterite communities.
Over the past three days, 86 of the 110 new cases have been linked to Hutterite communities. The remainder have largely been in various communities throughout the province.
“This outbreak (in Hutterite communities) is quite severe,” Moe said.
He said health officials will be heading into every Hutterite community in the province to do testing and offer education about safety practices.
Moe said it’s expected there will be more cases as the province does more testing.
He said as the numbers increase, it isn’t the province’s intent to stigmatize the communities. He said people should applaud those who get tested.
“Those numbers are a result of doing the right thing, and for that, I say thank you,” Moe said. “That’s how you take those numbers and turn them in a different direction.”
He said Hutterite communities have been implementing a number of safety practices to help prevent the spread of the virus.
They have eliminated travel between communities, limited the number of people who can go into town, and have done curbside pick-up or drop-off.
In other cases, some communities don’t let operators share machines. There is only one operator per machine, said Warren Kaeding, the Minister of Rural and Remote Health.
As well, he said there are some Hutterite communities with no active cases.
“They are very willing to reduce this, and I would like to applaud all of them for helping reduce the spread within their communities,” he said.
But it isn’t only Hutterite communities that are seeing cases rise.
Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said, on average, the province is seeing five to 10 cases per day in general settings. Before this, the province saw about zero to five cases per day, he said.
Within the past three days, there have been 72 people who got COVID-19 but couldn’t trace where they got it from.
However, Moe said the province continues to work to help reduce the spread by doing aggressive testing and contact tracing.
He encouraged people to take the pandemic seriously and get into the habit of wearing a mask when going out in public.