Saskatchewan reported seven new coronavirus cases on Tuesday as Phase 2 of the province’s reopening plan kicked in.
All of the new cases were in the far north, raising the total number of cases in the region to 226.
Overall, Saskatchewan has 599 total cases.
The far north continues to have the most active cases — 107 of the 123 in the province.
Premier Scott Moe said travel restrictions in the north have been amended to apply only to the northwest region.
“There are still 107 active cases in the far north and virtually all of those cases are in the northwestern portion of our province,” Moe said.
“So following consultation with a number of leaders in communities further to the east of that area, but also in Saskatchewan’s north, the travel restrictions for the north-central and the northeastern part of the province, including the communities of La Longe, Air Ronge, Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay, are being lifted.”
As for when the restrictions in the northwest will be lifted, Dr. Saqib Shahab said that depends on case numbers.
“Generally for outbreaks, we do like to see case numbers extremely low, they may not be zero, but extremely low for at least two weeks,” the province’s chief medical health officer said.
“Even when the case numbers are low, if most of them are linked to a known case, then those two factors demonstrate that there is no ongoing widespread community transmission.”
Other regions with action cases are the north (10), Saskatoon (four), Regina (one) and the central region (one).
Five people are in hospital — one in Regina and four in Saskatoon, three who are in intensive care.
Fifteen more recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recoveries to 470.
Six deaths have been reported in the province due to COVID-19.
Phase 2 of Reopening Saskatchewan starts
The new cases come as the province continues with its reopening plan.
Phase 2 allows retail businesses, shopping malls, select personal services such as hairstylists, barbers, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists and acupressurists, along with public markets and farmers’ markets to open.
Surgeries that are permitted will be expanded from emergency and three-week urgent cases to six-week urgent cases.
MRIs will increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of normal capacity. CT scans are also returning to 75 per cent of normal capacity from the current 55 per cent level.
Moe said no date has yet been set for Phase 3, which allows restaurants, bars, gyms and childcare facilities to reopen, along with the remaining personal services.
“We will be looking at, in the next few days ahead, to start to rough out a target date so that these businesses will have a date that they can start to plan for,” Moe said.
Shahab said essential businesses set the benchmark for Phase 2, but there has to be spacing between each phase.
“Two to three weeks… in between phases and maybe longer. I think we just need to let Phase 2 reopen and then start planning for Phase 3,” Shahab said.
Phase 3 also increases the size of public and private gatherings from 10 to 15.
Here is a breakdown of total Saskatchewan cases by age as of Tuesday:
- 84 people are 19 and under
- 216 people are 20 to 39
- 182 are 40 to 59
- 99 people are 60 to 79
- 18 people are 80 and over
Males make up 51 per cent of the cases, females 49 per cent.
Officials said 323 cases are linked to community contacts or mass gatherings, 139 are travel-related, 68 are under investigation by public health and 69 have no known exposure.
Saskatchewan has completed 41,606 tests so far for the virus, up 353 from Sunday.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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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