While cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and cause concern in northern Saskatchewan, all appears quiet in the rural south.
As of May 8, cases in the central region remained at 11, while the south had recorded 15. Neither zone has had an active or new case since the end of April.
Regina had only two active cases May 8 and Saskatoon had 16, while the north and far north had 186.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said this isn’t time for rural residents in the grain belt to be complacent.
“Our hope is, it is because of hardly any COVID-19 virus around and we would really continue to encourage anyone with even mild symptoms to seek testing, because that will inform what they need to do for themselves and their immediate family,” he said of the low numbers.
It’s also important for the province to track the virus activity.
“While we don’t want to use hospitalizations as the main indicator because that has a two-to-three week lag… the fact that we are also not seeing recent ICU admissions or hospitalizations in the rest of the province is also a very reliable indicator that things are quiet in the rest of the province,” he said, comparing the north to the south.
As Saskatchewan begins Phase 2 of its re-opening plan May 19, Shahab reminded residents that this will be a new normal, not back to business as it used to be.
The province will not release the names of the 26 communities in the central and southern regions where positive cases were identified, saying there is little value in that.
The location of outbreaks will be publicly noted if they occur within Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities, personal care homes, homeless shelters and correctional facilities.
Those in workplaces will be done on a case-by-case basis, depending on risk to the public.
The outbreak declared after a single patient tested positive in Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital is now over after no staff or patients were affected.
One positive case at the Saputo dairy plant in Saskatoon earlier in the week resulted in an outbreak declaration. The plant employs 250 people.
Meanwhile, provincial health officials are inspecting six larger meat processing facilities in the province to make sure proper protections are in place for staff.