SHA struggles to keep up with contact tracing
REGINA -- As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, contact tracing is becoming more difficult for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
With 804 positive cases in the province since Monday, that means almost 9,000 close contacts need to be called and tested.
"Right now, every confirmed case in the province has an average of 11 close contacts," Health Minister Paul Merriman said during Thursday’s COVID-19 update.
The number of contacts to trace is putting a strain on tracing capacities and has led to 20 per cent of the province’s cases being listed as having no known exposures, while 1,578 remain under investigation by public health.
"That’s why we all need to reduce our number of contacts, we all need to examine where are we going, is it essential, stay home as much as possible," Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.
In an effort to ramp up contact tracing efforts, the SHA has increased staffing from 60 to 400 and other provincial government staff are being made available to assist, as well as nursing students from the University of Saskatchewan.
"The SHA is also working with the Federal Government to access federal resources to support our contact tracing, including approximately 30-40 staff from Stats Canada," Merriman said.
The modelling released by the provincial government on Thursday showed potential scenarios where cases could continue to spike or be brought under control depending on how this week’s public health guidelines pan out.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the government to act now with the projections showing the potential for thousands of more cases and hundreds of more deaths.
"It is so frustrating to see the government doubling down on limited action when this is the time to bring in that three-week circuit breaker and really change that course," Meili said on Friday.
The NDP also wants to see the province increase support for long-term and personal care homes to avoid outbreaks. That includes $20-million in funding from the province’s COVID contingency fund to increase staff at those facilities.