Coronavirus outbreak declared at Meadow Lake Hospital, 25 new cases in Saskatchewan

WATCH: Dr. Saqib Shahab, along with Premier Scott Moe and Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant, update the coronavirus situation in the province.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Meadow Lake Hospital as the province announced 25 new coronavirus cases in Saskatchewan.

Twenty-four of the new cases are in the far north, with 22 of those in La Loche where an outbreak was declared on April 17.

Over 70 per cent of the 194 active cases in the province are in the far north (138).

READ MORE: La Loche COVID-19 victim’s family warns others to take the disease seriously

The other remaining new case is in the Saskatoon region, which has 17 active cases.

The remaining active cases are in the north region (36) and the Regina region (3).

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Premier Scott Moe called the far north outbreak “serious for this province.”

“We continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the necessary supports are in place to provide residents in the area to not only self-isolate but also to physical distance.”

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said the outbreak is “very concerning” and primarily affecting one age group.

“While the case numbers are alarming, they are being generated through very active case finding, which allows cases even if they are mildly symptomatic to be effectively isolated,” Shahab said.

“If you look at the age ranges of the cases, we are now seeing an increase in the 20 to 40 age group… which is partially due to the transmission mostly younger age groups in the La Loche area.”

Shahab said most of the cases are mild with those affected isolating at home.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan confirms 25 new COVID-19 cases, provincial total surpasses 500' Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan confirms 25 new COVID-19 cases, provincial total surpasses 500
Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan confirms 25 new COVID-19 cases, provincial total surpasses 500 – May 6, 2020

The outbreak in Meadow Lake was declared Tuesday evening after a health-care worker tested positive for the novel coronavirus, health officials said.

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It is linked to community transmission and no patients have shown signs at this time of any COVID-19 symptoms, they added.

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The health-care worker and close contacts are self-isolating and officials said additional contact tracing is underway.

“We have eight additional staff have been tested that have all received negative results this morning,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said.

“However, we are going to be re-testing and they’re all on self-quarantine.”

The SHA said there are no service disruptions at this time at the hospital and that key emergency department, emergency surgical and obstetrical services remain available.

That could change based on risk assessment by both public health staff and hospital management.

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Outbreaks have previously been declared at other hospitals in Saskatchewan.

A cluster of cases was reported at Lloydminster Hospital on April 29, days after it was identified by local health officials.

An outbreak was declared at Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital on May 1 after a patient tested positive for the coronavirus on April 29.

READ MORE: AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde calls COVID-19 outbreak in Saskatchewan’s far north alarming

Saskatchewan now has 512 total coronavirus cases.

Thirteen people are in hospital — 10 in Saskatoon and three in the north. Three people in Saskatoon and one in the north are in intensive care.

Six people in the province have died due to COVID-19.

Here is a breakdown of Saskatchewan cases by age:

  • 66 people are 19 and under
  • 182 people are 20 to 39
  • 159 are 40 to 59
  • 90 people are 60 to 79
  • 15 people are 80 and over

Males make up 50 per cent of the cases, females 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, two more people have recovered, bring the total number of recoveries to 312.

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Saskatchewan has completed 33,591 tests so far for the virus, up 670 from Tuesday.

Moe said testing has not reached the 1,500 daily level he was aiming for by the end of April because he said there haven’t been the requests for tests.

“Which is a positive thing… for the vast number of communities here in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Moe said testing numbers may rise in the coming days due to increased testing in the northwest.

“Our testing is starting to increase again from where it was maybe a week or so ago and I would expect it may increase in the days ahead,” he said.

“In particular, dealing with the one more serious outbreak we have in La Loche and that surrounding area.’

The SHA said 727 tests had been performed in La Loche and the surrounding area as of Wednesday morning.

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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 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.

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.