REGINA -- Saskatchewan’s emergency operations centre will go into full force to help tackle COVID-19 after the province reported a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

The health authority said on Thursday the emergency operations centre, which co-ordinates and mobilizes health resources, will go into full operations starting the week of Nov. 16.

The move will likely result in service slowdowns for other health needs, the SHA said in a news release.

However, the health authority expects the slowdowns won’t be as significant as they were during the spring.

“Our approach now will be to make any service disruptions targeted, localized and as time-limited as possible to ensure Saskatchewan citizens are still getting the health services they need,” said SHA CEO Scott Livingstone, in a news release.

He said the health authority has defensive and offensive strategies in place to address the significant rise in cases and hospitalizations.

“We determined that a fully operational (emergency operations centre) will ensure strong central co-ordination of those efforts and to signal that we are mobilizing all available resources to combat COVID-19,” he said.

The health authority expects unprecedented growth in demand for testing, contact tracing, entryway screening, lab processing and support staff.

It said it won’t be able to meet this demand through the labour market.

Therefore, the SHA expects it will redeploy staff to meet high demand for contact tracing, as well as to address surges in hospitals and ensure safety in long-term care facilities.

The health authority said it will announce slow downs or disruptions as they are identified and implemented.

The SHA is reminding the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by physical distancing, washing hands regularly, limiting your bubble as much as possible, abide by public health orders and wear a mask indoors. 

The emergency operations centre had been fully operational from March to June 2020. Since then, the health authority had a public health incident command centre to focus on testing, contact tracing and outbreak management.