Coronavirus: Nurses’ union urges premier to rethink ‘reopening Saskatchewan’

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Nurses’ union urges premier to rethink ‘reopening Saskatchewan’
WATCH: The union representing nurses in Saskatchewan wants Premier Scott Moe to rethink reopening the province and to stay the course for at least two more weeks – Apr 15, 2020

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses is calling on the premier to rethink “reopening Saskatchewan.”

“We’re very fearful as registered nurses and health-care workers that when the premier starts to speak in these terms and musing about opening the province, it puts us in a very precarious position,” the union’s president, Tracy Zambory, said in an interview with Global News.

“We are there to try to keep everyone safe.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow

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Saskatchewan announced the closure of schools on March 16 and declared a state of emergency on March 18. Restrictions limiting group gatherings, businesses from operating storefronts and providing personal care services and clinics from performing elective procedures have followed.

As Saskatchewan reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, Premier Scott Moe said details on reigniting sectors of the economy could be coming as early as next week if that number stays low.

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“We can start to think about what the process of reopening Saskatchewan will look like,” Moe said during a press conference.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Officials considering plan to re-open parts of Saskatchewan economy'
Coronavirus: Officials considering plan to re-open parts of Saskatchewan economy

Aggressive testing and contact tracing will be paramount to the plan, which will be phased, gradual and build on physical distancing measures already in place, the premier said.

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The nurses’ union believes that even talk that indicates a return to normalcy at this point could dissuade people from practicing social and physical distancing and staying home — especially as the weather gets warmer.

“The last thing we need in Saskatchewan for ourselves is just to get off the path to correctness because we see a few testing days that are giving us positive results,” Zambory said, after one new case of COVID-19 was reported Tuesday.

While it’s “great that things are looking this way,” Zambory said restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 need to continue.

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Zambory noted that China, where the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, is fighting flareups.  South Korea is grappling with the notion of patients becoming reinfected.

“I think we in Saskatchewan need to pay heed to what we see happening in those areas of the world,” she said, noting Ontario has extended its state of emergency for another month.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario extends state of emergency, pledges more help for long-term care homes

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Zambory is urging the Saskatchewan government to “stay the course” for at least another two weeks.

“Let’s not be talking about reopening Saskatchewan any time soon,” she said.

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.

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.

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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.

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