A timeline of the novel coronavirus in Saskatchewan

WATCH: Stories and press conferences from Saskatchewan as the coronavirus pandemic spread in to the province.

Saskatchewan took a number of steps to suppress the spread of the novel coronavirus after the first case was reported in the province in early March.

That included declaring a state of emergency to limit the size of gatherings and ordering a number of businesses to close.

Nearly two months later, the province was the first in Canada to announce its reopening plan over five phases, starting on May 4.

Here is a look at the timeline of actions taken in Saskatchewan.

March 11

Nearly 160 inmates at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre are placed under quarantine after one offender says he was previously in contact with someone with COVID-19.

As of April 15, six guards at the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, but no offenders.

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March 12

Saskatchewan reports its first case of COVID-19, a person in their 60s who recently travelled to Egypt. Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief health medical officer, said at the time that the risk of acquiring COVID-19 in Saskatchewan remained low.

Premier Scott Moe ends weeks of speculation by saying voters will not head to the polls this spring.

As speculation of an early election ended, word came that the Juno Awards scheduled to take place in Saskatoon on March 15 were cancelled.

March 13

Saskatchewan’s HealthLine 811 experiences a significant backlog as people call with more “general questions,” rather than health concerns.

Health Minister Jim Reiter calls for an action plan within days to deal with the issue.

Both the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL) suspend their seasons.

The WHL cancelled the remainder of its season on March 18, while the NLL followed suit on April 8.

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, which originally said on March 12 that its season will continue, backtracked and suspended its season.

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March 14

The University of Regina suspends all classes and labs for the next four days. Classes resumed on March 20 through distance teaching only.

The University of Saskatchewan also suspends classes and moves to distance learning.

March 15

Saskatchewan says all public schools will remain open and that any decision to close schools would be made on the advice of Shahab, who said it would not be made in the “absence of valid public health reasons.”

March 16

One day after saying public schools will remain open, the province orders all publicly-funded schools to close indefinitely starting on March 20. Officials said every student will receive a final grade based on their current grade and they will progress to their next grade level for the 2020-21 school year.

Visitor restrictions are implemented at hospitals, long-term care homes, personal care homes and group homes.

The Saskatchewan government said while concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus continues to rise, the risk remains low but is increasing.

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March 17

The Saskatchewan government passes emergency legislation to deal with COVID-19 by amending the Saskatchewan Employment Act. The new measures allow workers in Saskatchewan to miss up to 14 days of work without being penalized by their employers, and is made retroactive to March 6.

The government also says the tabling of the full 2020-21 budget will be delayed, but spending estimates will be released on March 18.

March 18

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe declares a state of emergency.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned, and seating at restaurants, bars and event centres is limited to 50 per cent of capacity, or 50 people, whichever is less.

Gyms, fitness centres, casinos and bingo halls are ordered closed until further notice.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it will stop performing all non-urgent and elective surgeries, procedures and diagnostics as of March 23.

March 19

Dr. Allan Woo, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, says he has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Woo believes he contracted the virus at a curling bonspiel in Alberta. Officials later link 11 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan to the bonspiel.

March 20

Moe signs an order under the province’s Emergency Measures Act authorizing police to enforce all orders made under the province’s state of emergency, including self-isolation for international travellers.

The province orders all restaurants, food courts and other similar businesses closed as of March 23, with exceptions made for those offering takeout, drive-through and food product delivery.

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March 24

A leaked document from the SHA suggests a death toll of 15,000 in a worst-case scenario for the province.

The SHA said it was a draft document based on early modelling and that it was still being refined. The document projects that about 300,000 people will be infected by COVID-19, 15,000 who may require intensive care.

March 25

Saskatchewan limits gatherings to 10 people and mandates certain businesses to close, but allows those businesses to expand into e-commerce or provide pickup or delivery services to customers.

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Two people who attended a snowmobile supper on March 14 in Christopher Lake test positive for coronavirus. Officials later say 24 people who attended the event became infected.

March 27

The number of coronavirus cases in Saskatchewan tops 100.

SHA says PPE has gone missing from its facilities and the health authority’s CEO, Scott Livingstone, believes it is some staff at the SHA who are responsible.

RCMP charge 11 people with violating the province’s order to limit gathering to 10 people or less.

March 30

The first two coronavirus-related deaths in Saskatchewan are reported.

One victim was Alice Grove, a 75-year-old widow who lived alone on a farm near North Battleford.

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April 8

Saskatchewan releases its COVID-19 modelling forecast, saying between 3,075 and 8,370 could die under the different projections.

The modelling says between 153,000 and 408,000 could become infected.

April 22

In a live televised address, Moe says the province will “cautiously” reopen.

Moe said it will be carried out in five phases, with the first couple of phases to begin in May.

April 23

Saskatchewan roles out its five-part phase-in plan to reopen the province.

The first phase, starting May 4, will reopen some medical services and the resumption of low-risk outdoor activities – fishing, golf and camping.

Phase two starts on May 19 and will include businesses and select private services that were previously deemed not allowable.

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April 24

A public health order was issued restricting non-critical traffic to northern Saskatchewan due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Moe said the province is restricting travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak in La Loche and to protect northern residents.

May 16

A deadly coronavirus outbreak at the La Loche Health Centre was declared over by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

The outbreak was originally declared on April 17. Two residents of the home died as a result of the virus.

May 18

For the first time in over two months, Saskatchewan reported no new coronavirus cases.

The last time no cases were reported in the province was on March 11, the day before Saskatchewan reported its first presumptive case.

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May 19

Saskatchewan’s economy took another step forward as the province continues its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of Phase 2 of Saskatchewan’s five-phase reopening plan, retail businesses have been given the green light to open their doors to the public.

Surgeries that are permitted will be expanded from emergency and three-week urgent cases to six-week urgent cases.

May 25

Saskatchewan extends coronavirus testing to include anyone working outside their home, immunocompromised asymptomatic individuals, patients being admitted to hospital for an acute care and increased testing for homeless people and those living in vulnerable situations.

It was extended on July 14 to all people in the province who request a test.

June 8

Phase 3 of the province’s reopening plan rolls out.

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Gyms, restaurants and churches were allowed to reopen with seating restrictions and stringent cleaning procedures in place.

Childcare facilities could open with a limit of 15 children per building space.

Other businesses included in the Phase 3 reopening plan were estheticians, tattoo artists, make-up applicators, electrologists, manicurists, pedicurists, sun tanning parlours and facilities where body piercings, bone grafting or scarification services are provided.

June 9

The Saskatchewan government said prekindergarten to Grade 12 students in the province will resume in-classroom learning for the 2020-21 school year.

The Ministry of Education said it will provide public health guidelines for schools that are currently being developed in concert with Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer.

The school year is set to begin Sept. 1, based on local school division calendars.

June 22

Saskatchewan moves to Phase 4.1 of its reopening plan.

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It includes the resumption of child and youth day camps, outdoor pools and splash pads as well as outdoor sports and activities.

Indoor gathering sizes increased from 15 to a maximum of 30 people where space allows for physical distancing between participants.

June 29

Phase 4.2 of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan partially goes ahead.

Libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres and live theatres are allowed to reopen with restrictions.

June 30

The final parts of Saskatchewan’s Phase 4 reopening were announced.

Indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities and the performing arts — including music, dance and theatre — could reopen on July 6.

Casinos and bingo halls could open their doors on July 9.

July 16 was the date targeted by the province for the resumption of racetracks and rodeo-related activities.

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July 1

The Saskatchewan government stopped its daily coronavirus updates on weekends and statutory holidays.

It reversed its decision on July 14 due to higher case numbers.

July 7

Saskatchewan reported its youngest death to date due to the novel coronavirus.

The person, in their 20s, was a resident in the north region.

July 16

The Saskatchewan Health Authority warned of an increased risk of coronavirus transmission in the province.

The warning was issued after a spike in cases in the southwest and west-central regions of the province.

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July 22

The overall number of people in Saskatchewan who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus surpasses 1,000.

Premier Scott Moe said the increase in case numbers “are very concerning” but added it was “not entirely unexpected.”

July 27

Active cases in Saskatchewan reaches a new high of 307, with many linked to the  Hutterite communities.

Moe called the outbreak “quite severe,” and said every Hutterite colony in the province will be visited by health officials to disseminate information, provide testing if required and to support the communities.

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.

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