Saskatoon

Meili calls for all-party committee after first presumptive COVID-19 case in Saskatchewan

Canada's most prominent music awards night has been cancelled over fears surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Junos cancelled, Rush suspends season and other events cancelled

NDP Leader Ryan Meili spoke Thursday morning after Saskatchewan announced its first presumptive case of COVID-19. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the province to form an all-party committee along with experts from various fields to tackle both the economic and health side of COVID-19 after the province confirmed its first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus. 

"The resident is in their 60s with recent travel to Egypt," the health ministry said in a statement Thursday morning.

The patient was tested Monday in Saskatoon after experiencing symptoms and is well enough to self-isolate at home, the ministry said.

Meili said the only way the health care system will not be overwhelmed is if we avoid a spike in cases.

"We must decrease the rate of infections as it passes through the population," Meili said. "The only way to reduce fatalities and reduce illness is to flatten the curve."

Meili also wants the province to postpone the budget for at least two weeks.

"The budget we have is no longer valid," he said.

Junos cancelled, WHL and NLL suspend seasons

The Juno Awards were cancelled Thursday over fears surrounding COVID-19.

Organizers made the announcement on Thursday morning from Saskatoon.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health made the decision along with the City of Saskatoon and Tourism Saskatoon.

Meili had called for the Junos to be cancelled.

"It's time to take appropriate social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19," wrote Meili.

A medical doctor himself, Meili said the health risks outweigh the benefits of the Junos this year.

"I've been reluctant to make this call. Junos2020 in #yxe is great for the city and lots of fun," he wrote.

"But it's not worth the risk this year."

Meanwhile, the Canadian Hockey League, which includes the Western Hockey League, is suspending all of its games until further notice.

This affects a number of Saskatchewan junior hockey teams, including teams in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.

And.the National Lacrosse League (NLL) has suspended all of its games, including Saskatchewan Rush games at SaskTel Centre.

"It is in the best interests of our fans, our players, our coaches and our staff to temporarily suspend play until further notice due to concerns over COVID-19," an NLL news release said.

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, cautioned people travelling to the Junos to take precautions.

He said the province was allowing the event to go on, as long as people take precautions.

"We really encourage some special social distancing measures," said Shahab. 

"Which means: don't go to the show if you're sick. Even if you have ticket or you're a celebrity who's come, if you land in Saskatoon and you've got a fever and cough, stay in your hotel."

Between March 2 and March 10, 152 people were tested. 

In comparison, only 25 people had been tested the week before.

Two of the more recent tests are still waiting on results.

The provincial Ministry of Health said that if a positive case emerges, it will tell people about it immediately. 

The Juno Awards were supposed to be held at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon March 15. Dozens of other musical events are happening across the city.

Meili wasn't the only person in the province concerned about the Junos.

Pamela Schwann, president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, said the upcoming Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum scheduled for April 21 and 22 at Pairieland Park has been cancelled.

"Given the escalating nature considering the COVID-19 we wanted to make that that everybody that was coming remained healthy and safe."

It has been rescheduled for Oct. 27 and 28.

Schwann said she and others from Saskatchewan attended the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada mining conference last week in Toronto. An attendee from Sudbury, Ont., has since tested positive for COVID-19.

"Everybody is doing a lot of self-monitoring and we'll just have to see how everybody does, she said.

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