COVID-19 in Sask: Province reports lowest daily increase in new cases in weeks

Four more cases in general were reported Monday, bringing the province's total tally to 253. But for the first time in Saskatchewan's fight against COVID-19, recoveries outpaced new cases.

Recoveries outpace new cases for first time

Saskatchewan announced four new cases of COVID-19 in the province Monday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Click here for the latest: COVID-19 in Sask: Province to release latest case numbers Tuesday afternoon

  • The province reported four more people infected with the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing Saskatchewan's total tally of cases to 253. Only 169 of those case are still active.
  • Many new cases are linked to grocery shopping. Buy only what you need, one advocate says. 
  • Eighty-one people in the province have now recovered from the virus. 
  • Four are currently in hospital, including two people under intensive care. 
  • Three Nutrien potash workers have been infected by the virus. 
  • The Sask. NDP is calling on the province to co-ordinate the manufacturing and distribution of non-medical masks to the general public.

Saskatchewan reported its lowest new crop of COVID-19 cases in more than two weeks on Monday.

The province reported only four new cases, bringing the province's total tally of cases to 253.

Out of that total, 81 people have recovered from the virus.

Premier Scott Moe pointed out that it's the first day that the number of recoveries has eclipsed the number of new cases, which suggests the province's measures, including physical distancing, are working.

But Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said "we need to maintain" those practices, citing solitary walks and staying home as much as possible as examples. 

Here's how the total number of Saskatchewan cases breaks down regionally, as of Monday.

(Duk Han Lee/CBC)

Four people are currently in hospital, including two people under intensive care: one in Regina, one in Saskatoon.

The number of people in hospital has been a moving target in recent weeks, but the number of people in ICU has remained low. 

Moe said that, on Wednesday, the province would give an update on COVID-19 hospital planning and its updated projections on the number of infections and deaths expected in Saskatchewan. 

1 person per household for grocery shopping recommended

While Monday's numbers were promising, Shahab also flagged a distressing new trend. 

"We have seen some of our recent cases, many of them actually, are individuals within the household who went shopping. So it's really important that we are very thoughtful about who goes [shopping] and how frequently," Shahab said.

"Go at a time that's less busy and follow instructions. If possible, only one person from your household should go shopping for essentials."

The province has also released a handy, colour-coded guide to COVID-19 best practices.

Try to do groceries only once a week at most, the province recommends. (Saskatchewan government)

Bump in cases among the young

The youngest age group reported on by Saskatchewan health officials saw its largest bump in COVID-19 cases so far over the weekend.

On Sunday, the number of cases among people aged 19 and under increased to 11, up from seven on Saturday.

Together with another new case on Friday, that age group almost doubled in cases from Friday to Sunday.

The jump in cases followed a period of relative stability in the age group, compared to other COVID-19 cohorts monitored by the Ministry of Health.

On March 22, health officials reported only one case in the 19-and-under demographic.

"One of the cases is an individual in their late teens, all others are adults," the ministry reported that day.

Here's how the rest of the number of cases in the age group developed over time, with the cumulative number of cases in parentheses:

  • One new case on March 24 (two).
  • Two new cases on March 27 (four).
  • One new case on March 30 (five).
  • One new case on April 3 (six).
  • One new case on April 4 (seven).
  • Four new cases on April 5 (11).

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the uptick could be a sign some young people are not taking social distancing as seriously as they should be.

"Don't think you're invulnerable," he said. 

People aged 20 to 44 remain the age group in Saskatchewan with the most cases. They make up 108 of the province's 249 cases as of Sunday.

People aged 65 and up, who are more susceptible to the serious symptoms of the coronavirus, make up 42 (or 17 per cent) of all cases so far.

A breakdown by age demographic of the COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan. (Ministry of Health)

On Monday, medical health officer Johnmark Opondo took some questions from city councillors in Saskatoon, where half of the province's COVID-19 cases have been reported.

He said the numbers aren't a reflection of Saskatoon doing anything wrong, but rather a confirmation that "Saskatoon is an important hub for traffic, for communication, for people going across Canada."

He added that he feels Saskatoon is doing the most widespread testing in the provice.

First Nations report their own cases

When it comes to reporting the location of new cases of COVID-19, health officials are still only being specific about the province's two largest cities, Saskatoon and Regina, with all other reporting done by region. Shahab said it's both a matter of protecting patient privacy and an attempt to instill a mindset that the virus is everywhere.

Some Saskatchewan First Nations are taking it upon themselves to tell their citizens about new cases in their midst.
On Sunday, James Smith Cree Nation, located 163 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, issued a public notice saying a resident in their 40s tested positive on April 3 and is self-isolating at home.

"James Smith Health Clinic staff is working with Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority public health officials to monitor the situation and exposed persons are being notified," the notice, signed by Chief Wally Burns, said.

Onion Lake Cree Nation, located 327 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, took a similar step on April 2, reporting a case in the community via Facebook. 

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), a federal department, has verified a total of three on-reserve cases of the novel coronavirus in Saskatchewan.

Early in the province's response to COVID-19, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority reported a positive case in Southend, located 600 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

It's not clear if the cases in Southend, Onion Lake and James Smith are the three cases confirmed by both federal and provincial officials. ISC has declined to confirm the locations of specific cases.

3 Nutrien workers infected

Saskatchewan potash giant Nutrien said three of its workers have become infected with the virus. 

"Each employee followed the correct COVID-19 protocols we have put in place and has been isolated, which minimizes the risk to our other employees," company spokesperson Will Tigley said Friday. 

"All affected employees are at home recovering and we are closely monitoring their conditions."

Tigley declined to specify which Nutrien sites the employees worked at, citing privacy concerns.

He said other workers have been tested for the virus but was unsure how many. 

Three workers at unspecified Nutrien potash sites have tested positive for the virus, the company said. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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with files from Bryan Eneas