Coronavirus: Saskatchewan reports 6 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 72

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan reports 6 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 72
WATCH: There are now 72 cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. As Roberta Bell reports, a leaked health authority document indicates provincial hospitals are on track to become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Saskatchewan reports six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the province to 72 as of March 24.

Of the 72 confirmed cases, provincial government officials said two are 19 years of age and under, 59 are between 20 and 64 and 11 are 65 and older. They added that 60 per cent of the cases are men and 40 per cent are women.

READ MORE: Leaked SHA document shows worst-case scenario outcome of coronavirus in Saskatchewan

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, confirmed Tuesday that four cases are without clear exposure history: one in the Regina area, two in the Saskatoon area, and one in central Saskatchewan.

The four cases of unknown exposure give evidence of community transmission; however, they are still under investigation, officials said.

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Shahab said this is an important infection point as these cases were expected. Based on that, he said they will be making recommendations to increase testing for people who have not travelled and in an out-patient setting.

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Testing is expanding in the community setting, where symptoms develop and worsen for people with underlying health issues, he added.

As the four cases are not imported and appear to be emerging in the community, Shahab said the time is now to watch the curve carefully.

“So far we have seen good evidence that we are maintaining and keeping that curve flat,” Shahab said.

“But now with the initiation of community transmission, I think we really need to be even more diligent by doing everything we need to do in terms of staying home if you’re sick. Doesn’t matter if you’ve travelled, not travelled, you can get tested if you need to. And just keeping that physical distance, that social distance at all times.”

The chief medical health officer’s advice now is act as if there’s unknown community transmission everywhere but not to panic and take precautions as usual with social distancing in day-to-day life.

The Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory has performed 5,757 COVID-19 tests, according to a press release.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan rolls out financial support plan amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.