The president of a Saskatchewan snowmobile club that hosted a rally that’s now the focus of a coronavirus warning acknowledged the club did receive some public backlash for holding the event.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Wednesday that two people at the Lakeland Snowmobile Club Wilderness Rally Supper on March 14 have tested positive for COVID-19.
They said one of those people was a server at the supper where over 110 attended, and added anyone who was there between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. should self-isolate immediately.
Tom McKnight told CKBI radio in Prince Albert that at the time there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, and up to 250 people were still allowed at public gatherings.
He said if organizers had known how it was going to turn out, they would have cancelled.
McKnight, who is now in self-isolation, says he learned of the positive tests on social media.
“Some of the members of our club have said we should leave this up to the health authorities to deal with but when I hear about it on a Facebook post, it doesn’t instill a lot of faith that the SHA has the capability to do that,” McKnight said.
“So we need to get this out to the people that were at the rally.”
Dr. Khami Chokani, Prince Albert’s medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the authority only learned about the cases Wednesday afternoon and responded right away.
“I think we did try to get the message out, having gathered together the facts and as soon as we could,” he said.
Chokani specified the investigation was not related to the whole rally, but rather was focused just on the supper.
He could not say whether the server in question was someone working behind the bar, or someone walking through the crowd.
“We do know they were providing a service and it could have actually been a blend of the two,” he said.
McKnight said he was waiting for test results for himself, his son and his pregnant daughter-in-law. After the rally, McKnight said he travelled to B.C. to see some friends, one of whom is suffering from kidney failure.
“You know how that makes me feel,” he said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.
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.
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