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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan RCMP charge 11 suspects for violating public health order

Second-degree murder laid after woman found dead in North Battleford, Sask.
According to police, these are the first individuals the Saskatchewan RCMP have arrested and charged during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Saskatchewan Public Health Act. File / Global News

Saskatchewan RCMP has charged a group of suspects in a criminal investigation with failing to comply with the province’s Public Health Order that limits public gatherings to 10 people or less.

According to police, these are the first individuals the Saskatchewan RCMP have arrested and charged during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Saskatchewan Public Health Act.

The law, which came into effect March 26, states “participating in a private gathering of more than 10 people without maintaining a two-metre distancing between people.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan limits gatherings to 10 people, moves to limit more businesses

Police allege this order was broken by 11 individuals who were committing crimes together on March 27. The accused include residents of Lloydminster, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, Big Island Lake Cree Territory and Onion Lake.

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All 11 suspects were arrested following a police chase in Loon Lake on Friday. Police say during their pursuit, suspects in the vehicle were throwing items out the window, including firearms.

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The car chase turned into a foot pursuit that resulted in the arrest of several individuals. In total, 11 people were arrested, including a youth. They were jointly charged with numerous firearm-related offences, fleeing a police officer, assault of a peace officer with a weapon and failing to comply with the public health order.

Seven of the accused face additional charges that range from resisting arrest and breaching probation.

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

Four of the accused were released from custody, including the youth. Police say they were placed on strict conditions including staying inside an approved residence for 24 hours a day for 14 days and immediately notifying HealthLine 811 if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

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

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers 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. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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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.