Saskatoon

Sask. COVID-19 active cases climb to record high for second day

This is the second day in a row the province has set a new record high for active cases, as on Saturday, 36 cases were added, bringing the total to 326. Today there are 342 active cases.

Public health expert says rise in cases may signal beginning of Saskatchewan's second wave

Saskatchewan recorded 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 2,330 and the number of active cases to a record high of 342. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters)

Active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan hit an all-time this weekend.

Twenty-four new cases were added on Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 2,330 with active cases pegged at 342. 

This is the second day in a row the province has set a new record high for active cases, as on Saturday, 36 cases were added, bringing the total to 326.

The highest number of active cases recorded previously would have been on July 29, when 322 cases were recorded as active. So far, a total of 1,963 cases are considered recovered.

The number of people in hospital climbed day-over-day, as on Saturday, 11 people were listed as receiving care in hospital. On Sunday, that number rose to 14. 

The number of people receiving intensive care, however, stayed static at two — one in Saskatoon and one in Regina. 

Active cases signal second wave: physician

At least one public health expert says the rise in cases should cause Saskatchewan Health officials to take a second look at restrictions, as the increase could be a sign the province is approaching a resurgence.

"To me, it's starting to signal that we're heading into that second wave everyone has been talking about and expecting in the fall," said Dr. Cory Neudorf, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.

"It does signal the need for re-thinking what our next steps should be in a strategy for containment." 

Neudorf, who is also a public health physician, says with the rise in cases, the conversation around stricter masking recommendations should be happening between the government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

He said stronger messaging, including a mask requirement in certain situations, is something that should be considered.

"I know people don't like the idea of mandatory masks, because all of us don't react very well to being told you have to do something," said Neudorf. 

"But I think what we're hearing from many businesses and places that are offering services to the public, is that they're trying to enforce more of a strong recommendation, but don't feel that they've got the backing of authorities unless there's something they can point to to say: 'it's more than just strongly recommended." 

Neudorf says while he understands people are experiencing pandemic fatigue, they must remain vigilant in terms of hand-washing, practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask, as these precautions need to work together in order for the spread of COVID-19 to slow.

He noted if people closely follow the guidelines, there's a possibility a second wave won't hit Saskatchewan as hard as it has hit elsewhere in Canada, where cases are surging. 

"We can see what's happening in other provinces," he said. "If we act more seriously now, we may not see that same type of second wave in the province, so it's a good time to act now, to learn from what we're seeing in other places around us."

Rosthern Hospital closed

The province also advised the public the hospital in Rosthern will be closed until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 case there.

The release said contact tracing is currently underway and no emergency services will be available during the closure.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is asking residents in the area to call 9-1-1 if they require emergency medical service.

Of the province's new cases on Sunday, eight are in North Central. Six were be recorded in Regina. One was recorded in Saskatoon. The remainder of the new cases are spread out between the Far North West, North West, Central East, Central West and South East zones. 

The province says so far, there are at least 79 cases — both first and second generation — linked to a Full Gospel Outreach Centre event in Prince Albert. Sunday's update indicated the majority of these cases are concentrated in the north, and new cases are still being recorded. 

"Many of the newer cases and outbreaks arising in the north are now third generation cases from this event," the update explained, noting "superspreader" events are not limited to those who attended and can quickly spread in local settings.

Of the province's new cases, eight are in North Central. Six were recorded in the Regina area. One was recorded in the Saskatoon area. The remainder of the new cases are spread out between the Far North West, North West, Central East, Central West and South East zones.

As of Sunday, the Government of Saskatchewan has conducted a total of 230,729 COVID-19 tests, with 2,765 tests conducted on Saturday alone. 

With files from Morgan Modjeski

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