Sask's top doctor not surprised by rise in COVID-19 cases
Saskatchewan’s active cases of COVID-19 have increased by 471 per cent in the past month, fuelled mostly by the Delta variant.
The rapid increase in cases doesn’t require additional restrictions in the province, according to Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer.
"Given how effective vaccines are, if it is a choice between ramping up vaccines, incentivizing getting vaccinated and encouraging mask use, these two things have no economic impact and these are the two things to emphasize right now," Dr. Saqib Shahab said.
The province removed all public health measures on July 11 and saw active cases drop to 242 by July 20, the lowest point since Oct. 13, but active cases have now climbed to 1,381 as of Friday, the most since June.
"We obviously saw a very rapid rise in the U.K., which like us had increasing vaccination rates and in the U..K, they have seen some increase in hospitalizations, so we watched that closely," Dr. Shahab said.
High vaccine uptake in the 40-plus age group has helped slow the increase in hospitalizations for Saskatchewan, but Dr. Shahab said that risk is increasing.
"The more our case numbers go [up], there’s a lower, but still significant, risk of hospitalization," he said. "The more case numbers go up, even fully vaccinated people can then become at high risk, even though, the majority will not get seriously ill."
Saskatchewan started this week with 73 people in hospitals with COVID-19, including nine patients in intensive care. That has since increased to 84 people and 15 in ICU as of Friday.
Dr. Shahab said the majority of hospitalizations are middle aged adults that are unvaccinated.
"We really need to do everything with 12-and-over getting vaccinated in order to keep our case numbers down," Dr. Shahab said.
The province’s top doctor is also recommending residents begin wearing masks again in public places, whether you’re vaccinated or not.
"You're more likely to transmit COVID or be exposed to COVID if you're unvaccinated and get seriously ill, but as we've seen from the U.S. data, that if you're vaccinated, you can still get mildly symptomatic and for a brief duration, still transmit COVID," he said.
"When you're in large public place, when you don't know if everyone's vaccinated, it just makes sense to put the mask on."
Dr. Shahab reiterated that with school starting in a few weeks, residents need to protect themselves with a vaccine dose to ensure those 12-and-under, who are ineligibly for a shot aren’t at risk.