REGINA -- A person in their 60s who recently travelled to Egypt has Saskatchewan's first presumptive case of COVID-19.

In a press conference on Thursday, Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab asked residents to monitor symptoms closely, following the province's first case.

“The province’s first case is linked to travel from a country where local transmission of COVID-19 has been reported,” Shahab said in a news release. “This supports the expanded testing criteria of symptomatic travelers to better prepare Saskatchewan’s response to the COVID-19 event. All travelers need to monitor their symptoms for two weeks upon return home.”

“The general public does not need to be concerned,” he said.

The province says the person was tested in Saskatoon on March 9 and is self-isolating at home.

“While the risk of acquiring COVID-19 in Saskatchewan continues to be low, increased testing will assist us in detecting cases as early as possible and delaying the spread of the illness as long as possible,” Shahab said. “But it is critical that residents take precautions to protect themselves against respiratory illness. Wash your hands frequently, practice good cough and sneeze hygiene and stay home if you are sick.”

The Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory reported the positive sample on Thursday. The sample has now been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Shahab said all samples are currently being sent to Winnipeg for extra confirmation, but over time Saskatchewan plans to begin testing for COVID-19 independently.

The province says public health is investigating the case. The person has been in direct contact with at least one other individual, but that person is not showing symptoms.

Shahab said the province has tested 285 patients: one person is a presumptive positive, 22 results are pending and 263 have been confirmed negative.

"We were expecting to see a case at some point and we're expecting to see more in the future connected to travel," Shahab said.

Shahab advised that transmission occurs through close contact in symptomatic people.

Health Minister Jim Reiter says the ministry has "dedicated planning teams in place."

“Our government is committed to providing the resources our public health system requires to mitigate and respond to COVID-19,” he said.

The province says you can protect yourself from respiratory illness by:

  • Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds
  • Not touching surfaces and then your mouth, eyes or nose
  • Using tissues when you cough or sneeze
  • Practicing "social distance" by not shaking hands or hugging
  • Staying home if you're sick