Saskatchewan officials provide COVID-19 update after second presumptive case found in province

The government of Saskatchewan confirmed a second presumptive case of COVID-19 has been found in the province, and introduced increased measures to help prevent the spread of it.

Gatherings of over 250 people prohibited, other measures introduced

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Premier Scott Moe, and health minister Jim Reiter will provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in Saskatchewan on Friday afternoon. (CBC)

A second presumptive case of COVID-19 has been identified in Saskatchewan.

The government said the presumptive case was a person in their 60s recently travelled to Oregon. 

The test was conducted in Saskatoon on March 10 and that person has been self-isolating at home. 

"All travelers — including those to the U.S.A. — need to monitor their health for 14 days upon return to Canada and be prepared to stay home if you have a fever or cough," Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.

'Increased measures' unveiled

Effective Monday, the chief medical health officer ordered no public gatherings of more than 250 people in one room take place. 

During Friday's news conference, Shahab said these measures are specifically being taken to address large gatherings and international travel. Schools, universities and workplaces will not be closed. He said if further measures need to be taken around schools, those will be addressed in the future.

"This does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces," a government news release said. 

The chief medical health officer ordered no events of over 50 people with speakers who have travelled internationally in the last 14 days take place.

Retail stores and faith-based organizations are exempt from the ban, however the news release recommended measures that "support safe social distancing" should be taken. Those organizations were encouraged to contact their local medical health officer if needed. 

Watch: Government provides update on COVID-19 situation in Sask. Friday afternoon

People who travelled out of the province in the last 14 days, or who have acute respiratory or flu-like symptoms should avoid visiting long-term care homes or hospitals. 

As an employer, the government of Saskatchewan is imposing policies regarding travel and self-monitoring or self-isolation procedures. 

"Effective immediately, international travel (including the U.S.) for government employees on government business has been prohibited," the news release said.

"Any out-of-province travel for government employees on government business within Canada will be restricted and is subject to approval by the Deputy Minister to the Premier."

Government employees who are currently working or travelling internationally, including the U.S., or plan to travel internationally for personal reasons, will be required to self-isolate 14 days after returning to Canada as a precaution. Those who develop acute respiratory or flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact the Healthline at 811.

Any government employee who is experiencing symptoms of an acute respiratory or flu-like illness will be required to stay at home.

"While these are significant steps that will help limit transmission of COVID-19, most important is the responsibility we all have to ensure we reduce the risk to ourselves, our families and our communities," Premier Scott Moe said. 

"The best way we can do this is by practicing social distancing, washing our hands often, avoiding close personal contact like handshakes or hugs, and self isolating if we feel any symptoms of illness."

Health Minister Jim Reiter said there are legal channels to pursue against people who violate the chief medical health officer's orders. 

"We expect that people are going to comply," Reiter said. "There are significant financial penalty provisions within the [public health] act, if it ever came to that." 

Budget impacted

The provincial budget, set to be unveiled next week, will be without some of the typical pomp and flair. 

The budget is still expected to be released on the same day. However, many normally invited guests will not be attending.

"Members of the Legislative Assembly, media, and a limited number of staff will gather for these events while practising social distancing," the news release said. 

"Further, all tours and public events at the Legislative Building are suspended and general public access to the Legislative Building will also be suspended."