COVID-19 in Sask.: Household bubbles of 10 now allowed, 35 more cases confirmed to be variants of concern
28 newly confirmed variant cases were in Regina area
The Saskatchewan government is relaxing the rules for people meeting indoors on the same day it announced that 35 more known cases of COVID-19 in the province have been confirmed to be variants of concern.
Premier Scott Moe called it a "cautious relaxation."
"It's an approach that I feel shows that we respect and trust the people of the province, that they are going to make decisions that are in the best interests of not only them but their families," Moe said.
Effective immediately, individual households can create a bubble of up to 10 people inside a home at any one time, though the 10 people should be from two to three consistent households, according to a news release from the province.
"You may not join multiple bubbles," the release said.
People are still being asked to exercise caution.
"Assess the overall risk of COVID-19 before joining households. Does this household have a senior at elevated risk? Children attending school? Adults working outside of the home in essential workplaces? Can you still count all the potential contacts that household makes, in the event that a contact investigation must be done?" the release said.
"If the risk of potential transmission remains high, consider another household or remaining within your household."
"We hope that as long as we all follow those measures, we can keep our case numbers low," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer.
People who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 should not take part in sleep-overs until they are vaccinated, Shahab added.
More variant cases
The rules were being relaxed thanks to "a declining trend in confirmed cases and hospitalizations," according to the release.
It also noted that the first survey of positive COVID-19 samples conducted within the province, looking at samples from people who tested positive for COVID-19 from Jan. 26 to Feb. 27, found 35 cases of COVID-19 variants, bringing the total number of known variant cases to 44, up from nine on Monday.
The first batch of in-house testing focused on COVID-19 samples linked to international travel, declared outbreaks and cases of unexpected severe illness.
One of the newly confirmed variant cases announced Tuesday dates as far back as early January:
Twenty-eight of the 35 newly confirmed cases were found in the Regina area.
Here's a complete breakdown of the 44 known variant cases in the province:
"The confirmation of 44 variant of concern cases present over the span of two months is an indication that variants of concern, particularly B117 initially detected in the U.K., are present in Saskatchewan and community transmission has been occurring over the last two months," the release said.
Shahab said the Roy Romano Lab in Regina will begin screening all samples for variants instead of only a portion, as has been done up to now.
Church rules relaxed
The province also announced Tuesday that churches and other places of worship would be allowed up to 150 attendees or 30 per cent of their building's capacity, whichever is fewer.
That change will take effect on March 19.
Attendees still must stay two metres apart from each other and wear masks.
"Only clergy may remove their mask while officiating, but must maintain three metres physical distance from all other attendees while mask is removed," according to the release.
The full list of worship service guidelines can be found here.
Overall case update
The province announced 113 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, based on a total 1,874 tests performed. This brought the total number of known cases in the province since the pandemic began to 29,918.
The daily increase was below the seven-day average of 141, or 11.5 new cases per 100,000 people.
The new cases Tuesday are in the following provincial zones:
- Far northwest, four.
- Far northeast, nine.
- Northwest, nine.
- Northeast, one
- North central, four.
- Saskatoon, 37.
- Central east, four.
- Regina, 30.
- Southwest, three.
- South central, one.
- Southeast, two.
Eight new cases have pending residence information.
There are currently 139 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, 25 of whom are in intensive care.
The province also reported 160 new recoveries. There have been 28,104 known recoveries total as of Monday.
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