Saskatchewan health officials say there are now two presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the province.
The second presumptive case of COVID-19 was announced Friday by the Ministry of Health.
Health officials say the person is in their 60s and had returned home from Oregon State in the U.S.
The test was conducted in Saskatoon on March 10, and came back positive. The test still needs to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
The ministry says the individual was well enough to self-isolate at home.
Public health officials are currently in the process of getting in touch with anyone who may have been in contact with the individual. If you do not receive a call from public health, you are not at risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the individual, say officials.
“I know the emergence of this pandemic is creating great uncertainty for families and communities across Saskatchewan,” said Premier Scott Moe.
“People across this province are wondering what this means for them. Families are worried about the impact that COVID-19 could have on their communities and on their family members, and as a father I most certainly understand this. As a premier I understand this.”
Moe said the government is enacting aggressive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
The new measures are made under the order of province’s chief medical officer.
Starting Monday, no public gatherings of over 250 people in any room can take place. This does not include settings where people are distributed in multiple rooms or buildings such as schools, universities and workplaces.
“Gatherings of 250 people is problematic because we can’t maintain that social distancing,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical officer.
Additionally, no events with over 50 people, with speakers or attendees who have travelled internationally in the last 14 days should take place. Retail locations and faith-based organizations are exempt.
All provincial government employees are also restricted from travelling internationally or out-of-province.
On Friday, Moe along with other Canadian premiers, had a telephone conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and health authorities across Canada.
The federal government said $15.6 million will be going to Saskatchewan for their COVID-19 response.
In the meeting, Moe also requested more medical supplies like testing kits and personal protection equipment.
“As a province we can’t leave this effort solely to the health system to react and to respond as new cases may arise,” said Moe. “We must take personal and community responsibility. We know we need to ensure we’re proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
Shahab said it’s important to ramp up the rapid escalation of cases.
“This is something no longer limited to a few countries. Most of us over the course of next year or two will get exposed to COVID-19,” Shahab said.
He recommends cancelling or postponing non-essential travel outside of Canada. Additionally, all travellers should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) for 14 days after returning to Canada. If you have returned from travel, Shahab says don’t go to hospitals or caregiving homes.
Saskatchewan provincial budget events will go ahead on Wednesday without invited guests. Opposition leader Ryan Meili said the process should be pushed back by a few weeks.
“The finances of the provinces have changed entirely,” Meili said.
“The projections and predictions in that budget on oil prices, on our pension funds, et cetera – they’re no longer valid,” he said.
The provincial NDP called for an inventory on all equipment and testing kids related to COVID-19. They also want a ban on the practice of employer-required sick notes for patients with the novel coronavirus.
With files from Global’s Ryan Kessler.
Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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