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Universal testing introduced as Saskatchewan reports 56 new coronavirus cases

Saskatchewan reports 56 new coronavirus cases
WATCH: Saskatchewan health authorities say there are 56 new coronavirus cases in the province, with 90 active cases and 766 total recoveries.

The Saskatchewan government gave an update on new coronavirus cases in the province on Monday.

Health officials said there were 56 new cases in the update, with the overall total for the province growing to 871 since the first case was reported in March.

Read more: Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

Since the Ministry of Health no longer posts COVID-19 updates on weekends, Monday’s cases included a weekend summary. This means two new cases were reported on July 11, 23 on July 12 and 31 on Monday.

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan reports 56 new cases of COVID-19 in the past three days
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan reports 56 new cases of COVID-19 in the past three days

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is demanding Health Minister Jim Reiter answer for the lack of public communication about the spike in cases in the last 72 hours.

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“Active cases more than doubled, from 43 to 90, over three days, without a peep from the government. The lack of communication coming from this health minister is unacceptable,” Meili said in a press release.

“Now is not the time to shut down on public communication about the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic doesn’t take a break on weekends. Updated information should be reported daily. Period.”

Broken down, six of the new cases were in the Saskatoon area, 31 in the central region, 15 in the south region and four in the Regina area, according to a press release.

The government said previously-reported COVID-19 infections in the southwest now stretch farther and there is growing evidence of spread throughout southwest and west-central Saskatchewan.

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According to officials, this includes cases in the following rural municipalities:

  • Maple Creek;
  • Auvergne;
  • Biggar;
  • Carmichael;
  • Eagle Creek;
  • Harris;
  • Lac Pelletier;
  • Newcombe;
  • Perdue;
  • Kellross; and
  • Prairiedale.

The ministry and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said they’re working together with the Hutterian Safety Council to address the situation.  Increased testing and contact tracing resources will be deployed to the affected communities and surrounding areas over the next number of days, according to the ministry.

Provincially, three people are currently in hospital — one is receiving inpatient care in Saskatoon and two are in intensive care in Saskatoon and the south region.

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Just over 765 people have recovered and there are currently 90 active cases in the province, health officials said. Active cases are total cases less recoveries and deaths.

There have been 15 COVID-19-related deaths in Saskatchewan.

To date, over 75,160 tests have been carried out in the province.

Read more: Saskatchewan’s plan to rebound from coronavirus shutdown relies on its Crown corporations

Universal coronavirus testing was also announced along with the resumption of more health services in Saskatchewan on Monday.

Starting Tuesday, July 14, COVID-19 testing will be available to anyone in the province who requests it. Referrals can be made by contacting HealthLine 811.

The SHA said its laboratories are currently processing around 600 tests per day, with the capacity to perform upwards of 1,800. Patients will be prioritized for testing based on a number of factors, officials added.

Health services outlined as Phase 3 of the SHA’s service resumption plan are resuming on Monday.

These services include the following:

  • further enhanced mental health and addictions support, including the opening of social detox and addictions inpatient treatment;
  • additional chronic diseases management/wellness programs/stroke prevention; and
  • specialized services for clients with developmental disabilities, autism and brain injuries.

Over 540 health services have re-started in the province since service resumption began on May 19, SHA said.

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They added more have resumed in Regina and southern areas compared with Saskatoon and the north, given the COVID-19 cases in those areas and the response personnel required to support it.

“We’ve entered our ‘new normal,’ meaning while there is still some room to increase some services, we cannot let our guard down on the pandemic, especially as we progress towards the fall,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said in a press release.

“As we expand services, we are still also continuing to keep focused on COVID-19 support as well.”

This next phase will further increase surgical volumes to between 75 and 85 per cent of pre-COVID levels, SHA said. They added numbers vary significantly by site and as a result of staff availability.

Nearly 40% of Saskatchewan’s workforce has received CERB
Nearly 40% of Saskatchewan’s workforce has received CERB

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

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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.

In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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