COVID-19 in Sask: 18 new cases recorded in province on Sunday

Of the 249 cases, 11 people are aged 19 and under, 108 are in the ages of 20 to 44, 88 are in the age group of 45 to 64, with 42 cases in people aged 65 years and older. This means the number of cases in people younger than 19 has also increased, as on Saturday, the government said there were seven people under the age of 19 infected. 

Province says 67 people have recovered; four are in hospital, including two in ICU

Homemade masks made by Shelle Worley in Ontario can be seen in this photo. The Saskatchewan NDP is now encouraging members of the public to wear cloth masks in public, both to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also to ensure medical masks are reserved for front line medical staff. (Submitted by Shelley Worley)

Click here for the latest: COVID-19 in Sask: Youngest age group sees its biggest bump in cases

Saskatchewan now has 249 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

On Sunday, the Government of Saskatchewan issued its daily update and said there are 18 new cases in the province. 

The number of dead remains static at three, but the number of people in intensive care has increased: on Saturday, four people were in hospital with one in ICU; on Sunday it was announced there were now two people in ICU.

The number of people recovered in the province has jumped — there were 67 people listed as recovered on Sunday, compared to 55 on Saturday afternoon. 

Cases related to travel have been pegged at 109, 71 cases are either contacts or linked to mass gatherings, 14 have unknown origins and 55 remain under investigation by local public health. 

Eleven of the 18 new cases are in the Saskatoon region, as the number of cases in Saskatoon went from 112 to 123 on Sunday.

Of the 249 cases, 11 people are aged 19 and under, 108 are in the ages of 20 to 44, 88 are in the age group of 45 to 64, with 42 cases in people aged 65 years and older. This means the number of cases in people younger than 19 has also increased — on Saturday, the government said there were seven people under the age of 19 infected. 

To date, Saskatchewan has conducted 13,528 tests for COVID-19.

NDP calls for public to wear cloth masks 

The leader of Saskatchewan's opposition party said people should start wearing masks. 

NDP Leader Ryan Meili held an online news conference to "encourage members of the public to begin wearing cloth masks in public."

In this map from the Government of Saskatchewan, the province has broken down the number of COVID-19 cases by region across the province. Of the 249 cases in the province, 123 of them are located in Saskatoon and 51 of them are in Regina. (Government of Saskatchewan )

Meili said there are two main reasons the NDP is calling for the masks to be used. He said the first is that the masks have helped communities flatten the curve, pointing to places like South Korea, where masks were used heavily.

Part of the call for masks is to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community, as they can prevent the spread of respiratory droplets if used properly. But, he said the most important part is to ensure the public are using cloth masks, as opposed to medical masks, which should be reserved for front-line medical staff. 

"We think there's value in it," Meili said, referring to the cloth masks. "But we also want to remind people what kind of masks to use."

NDP Leader Ryan Meili says the NDP will be releasing videos on how to make and use the masks in a safe fashion. (Ryan Meili/YouTube)

He said with recent orders by U.S. President Donald Trump to have manufacturing firm 3M stop shipping N95 masks to Canadian and Latin American markets it's important medical masks are available for those who need them most.

"The last thing we want is to have a situation where folks in the general public are getting masks to protect themselves — with good reason — but they are using masks that should be used by healthcare workers and other folks on the frontline." 

Meili said the NDP is encouraging people to make their own masks and has released videos on how to safely make and use the masks.

In a statement sent to CBC News on Sunday, the Ministry of Health said maintaining the two-metre distance from others is key to minimizing the spread of COVID-19, but said there are times when homemade masks could be used. 

"In crowded settings where this two-metre distance cannot be maintained, homemade masks may be considered," the statement noted. "However, Health Canada and Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer advise caution when considering the use of homemade masks to protect against the transmission of COVID-19." 

The Ministry of Health says all residents should continue to avoid large crowds, practise physical distancing and minimize contact with people who live outside of their household. 

Masks offer some protection if used properly

The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised both the public and health care professionals to "use caution" when it comes to using homemade masks, which could include masks made out of cloth like cotton. 

"These types of masks may not be effective in blocking virus particles that may be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or certain medical procedures. They do not provide complete protection from the coronavirus because of a potential loose fit and the materials used."

The Public Health Agency also noted that wearing a mask while not ill may give a person a false sense of security and may be a potential risk for infection if the mask is not used or disposed of properly. However, it says the masks are "an additional measure you can take to protect others around you," as they serve as another way for people to cover their mouths, preventing droplets from coming into contact with surfaces or other people. 

Queen addresses Commonwealth 

FILE - In this Monday, March 9, 2020 file photo, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London. The Queen made a rare address, calling on Britons to rise to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic and exercise self-discipline in 'an increasingly challenging time.' (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press file photo)

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Queen Elizabeth addressed the Commonwealth.

Elizabeth thanked those who were staying at home, thereby helping to spare others from suffering the grief already felt by some families, but acknowledged self-isolation could be hard.

She also paid tribute to health care staff for their selfless work and commended the "heart-warming" stories of people across the Commonwealth, of which she is head, and beyond for delivering food and medicines to those who needed them. 

"Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do," she said.