COVID-19 continues to spread in Sask.

Saskatchewan health officials are warning of higher risk of COVID-19 transmission after posting the largest one-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

There are 42 new cases as of July 16, for a total of 923.

Thirty-one of those are in the South region, six are in Central, four are in the Saskatoon region and one is in the North.

Rural and remote health minister Warren Kaeding said the vast majority of the new cases are related to the growing outbreak in Hutterite colonies, but there are cases outside of the colonies as well.

He identified the rural municipalities where cases have been found as

Maple Creek, Auvergne, Biggar, Eagle Creek, Grandview, Harris, Kellross, Lac Pelletier, Newcombe, Perdue, Pleasant Valley, Prairiedale and Tramping Lake.

The city of Swift Current is also affected.

“We are asking everyone in the affected areas to take the following steps to protect yourselves,” Kaeding said.

“Stay in your home community as much as possible. Self isolate and get tested if you are feeling unwell at all.”

People should limit interpersonal contact and group gatherings as much as possible.

Kaeding said there are no new public health orders or closures at this time, but the situation will be monitored.

He said there could be more restrictions similar to what was seen in the northwest after outbreaks there but noted that community leaders haven’t yet asked for that.

“This outbreak is a reminder that the virus has not gone away and once it starts to spread it can spread quickly,” he said.

“Most of us remain vulnerable to exposure.”

Saskatchewan Health Authority chief executive officer Scott Livingstone said the surge in case numbers is a result of aggressive contact tracing, such as going door-to-door to test people in Hutterite communities.

“We have been bringing staff on colony when invited,” he said.

“We haven’t shown up unannounced. If there is somebody that wants us to be there, we will.”

Livingstone said that more than 10 of the new cases are “completely unrelated” to cases on a Hutterite colony.

SHA has restricted visitors now to the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current and long-term and personal care homes in Biggar, Cabri, Eastend, Elrose, Eston, Foam Lake, Gravelbourg, Gull Lake, Kerrobert, Kindersley, Lafleche, Lestock,

Mankota, Maple Creek, Meadows (Swift Current), Ponteix, Raymore, Rosetown, Shaunavon, Theodore and Wynyard.

Visitors are limited to outdoors or end-of-life care patients.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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