Sask. Health Authority chief medical officer 'cautiously optimistic' about lower COVID-19 case numbers

While Saskatchewan's active case numbers continue to fall, Dr. Susan Shaw cautions that the province isn't out of the woods yet.

Dr. Susan Shaw says she'll be more confident once more people are vaccinated

Dr. Susan Shaw said she's cautiously optimistic after a drop in new COVID-19 cases. (Zoom)

While Saskatchewan's active COVID-19 case numbers continue to fall, Dr. Susan Shaw cautions that the province isn't out of the woods yet.

On Wednesday, the province's seven-day daily average of new COVID-19 cases sat at 141, with 133 people in hospital. Two weeks ago, on May 13, the seven-day average sat at 212 with 161 people in hospital.

Dr. Shaw, an intensive care unit doctor and the chief medical officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said she'll be feeling more comfortable about the situation when more people in the province are vaccinated.

"I have cautious optimism, and I think that's shared by many of my colleagues," said Dr. Shaw.

"[But] we have large proportions of our population that aren't vaccinated and we need more vaccines to come into the province."

Shaw said hospitals are treating younger people than in the past. 

She said this was due to higher uptake and greater availability of vaccine for older people over a longer period of time, as well as younger people being more likely to have jobs where they could be exposed to COVID.

Shaw said she and her colleagues are carefully watching for a spike in new cases connected to the May long weekend.

"We saw higher cases after Christmas. Before that, Thanksgiving," she said.

"So I am watching, as I know many of my team are as well, to see what happens in the next two weeks."

Saskatchewan has agreed to take up to five ICU patients from Manitoba, which is currently dealing with a third wave of cases.

'I'll be honest, I hadn't thought that our worst case scenario planning would actually be of benefit to other neighbouring provinces," she said.

"But I'm very glad that we are able to, at this point, use the increased capacity that we built and work across the whole province to really look at where can we safely accept people from outside our usual borders."

Shaw emphasized the importance of vaccination and following public health rules even once vaccinated.

"It does take time between that first dose for your body's immune response to mount enough antibodies so that you're protected," she said. 

"We also know it's so important that people also get that second dose when it's available." 

With files from Saskatoon Morning


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