Sask. has 'highest burden' of COVID-19 in Canada, health authority says
According to data presented during a physicians' town hall, Saskatchewan has the "highest burden" of COVID-19 in Canada.
Thursday evening's virtual Saskatchewan Health Authority town hall event came just hours after Premier Scott Moe announced a series of new measures to help control the spread of COVID-19.
During the event, Medical Health Officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo said Saskatchewan has the highest new daily COVID-19 hospitalization rate in Canada — with Alberta in a close second.
"Sadly to report in the last 14 days … the death rates in Saskatchewan are the second-highest of all the provinces," Opondo said.
Opondo said the province saw its highest test-positivity rate late last week, 11.8 per cent, surpassing the previous record of 8.2 per cent set during the third wave.
The current fourth wave of COVID-19 will probably be "the largest COVID-19 experience" the province has seen so far, Opondo said.
Because the Delta variant is "so transmissible, a vaccination rate of 85 per cent among eligible people over the age of 12 is needed to reach herd immunity, according to Opondo.
"Vaccines alone may not get us where we want to go," Opondo said.
"We need to continue to promote reducing indoor density, maintaining physical distancing, limiting non-essential gatherings and non-essential visits outside the house."
Opondo called the introduction of a masking measure an "important step."
"We are going to continue to encourage people to work from home and we do want to see further policies, some of which were discussed today, which would introduce things like vaccine passports (and) mandatory vaccines for certain worker categories."
Opondo said the policies have been shown to "accelerate" COVID-19 vaccination in other jurisdictions.
If Saskatchewan does not cut transmission and increase vaccine uptake, Opondo said hospital capacity will exceed previous highs reached during the third wave of COVID-19 that battered the province in the spring.