'Vaccinations won't be enough': Sask. chief medical officers urge residents to stay put Easter weekend

Saskatchewan's chief medical officers have signed an open letter urging residents to stay home Easter weekend as coronavirus variants rise across southern Saskatchewan.

Doctors say 'Easter brings us to another tipping point,' urge residents to take extra precautions

In an open letter, Saskatchewan's chief medical officers said coronavirus variants are spreading faster and making people sicker. Doctors write that variants of concern are bringing 'more and more young people to hospital and are filling up our intensive care units.' (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Every chief medical health officer in Saskatchewan has signed an open letter urging residents to stay home Easter weekend. 

Dated April 1, the open letter cautions about harmful coronavirus variants on the rise in the province, specifically in Regina, Moose Jaw and the south east region. 

"These variants of concern spread faster and make people sicker," the letter said, and are sending "more and more young people to hospital and are filling up our intensive care units.

"This is highly concerning, especially as we approach Easter break. Transmission between households is one of the top causes of COVID transmission," the letter reads. 

"Holiday travel has the potential to carry the virus around the province. We typically see case surges post holidays. Easter brings us to another tipping point."

Public health measures are the 'bare minimum'

The 20 chief medical health officers say "vaccinations won't be enough" — which is a different message than the one Premier Scott Moe presented. 

On Tuesday, the premier stated vaccines — not public health measures — are the way out of the pandemic. 

Moe also spoke in general against further tightening rules, calling public health measures "nothing more than a stopgap to buy us time until we get the majority of Saskatchewan residents vaccinated."

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said stricter rules 'are not the goal. The goal is to keep COVID at a level that it isn't isn't overburdening our provincial health-care system.' (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

The province's medical health officers say public health orders are the bare minimum of what people should be doing. 

"Like driving through a bad snowstorm, the risks are too great if we hurtle along at the speed limit oblivious to the icy roads and reduced visibility that threaten to plunge us into the ditch. So have a plan to protect yourself and those you love," their open letter said. 

"We know when a prairie storm worsens, roads get closed. That has already started to happen in Regina; let's keep the storm from worsening elsewhere."

Doctors say take every precaution necessary

They encourage the public to plan virtual gatherings, meals and game nights, and to avoid all non-essential travel to anywhere outside your home community. 

A travel advisory is currently only in place for the Regina region, but the doctors encourage people in other communities to follow suit over the Easter weekend. 

"We are asking you to ask yourself: 'Just because I can do it, should I do it?'"

Saskatchewan's medical health officers are encouraging the public to get vaccinated when it's their turn. (Government of Saskatchewan)

The doctors also encouraged people to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it's their time, and to take every precaution necessary to help contain the spread of the virus.

"As you imagine what normal looks like, imagine it with one fewer family member beside you. Imagine the next Roughrider game or music festival without your best friend along to clap and cheer. That's what's at stake," the letter read.

"Because if we don't stick it to COVID now, not all of us will be around to celebrate defeating it later."

With files from Adam Hunter


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