Saskatchewan reported 50 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the majority in the north region, bringing overall cases in the province to 1,268.
Forty-four of the new cases are from one Hutterite community in the RM of Star City, east of Melfort.
Premier Scott Moe said people need to change their lifestyles to adapt to the pandemic, which some colonies are not willing to do.
“Every single one of us in this province, and the vast majority have changed how we are living each and every day. You all need to as well,” Moe said.
“If you don’t, many will get sick in your community, some will get very sick. Some will die.”
Moe said the full resources of the government are dedicated to ensuring that doesn’t happen.
“The (Saskatchewan Health Authority) will be visiting every Hutterite colony in the next few days for education purposes, potential contract tracing and making sure non-essential travel restrictions are being followed.”
However, Moe stopped short of saying they will impose any restrictions, including stay-at-home orders and imposing fines, on those communities.
“There are powers that government does have and there may be instances in the near future where possibly those powers may have to be utilized,” Moe said.
“In saying that, we have had far more collaboration than we have not.”
Warren Kaeding, the province’s rural and remote health minister, said they are encouraging compliance with public health orders in those communities.
“We are getting that in a majority of cases, but we’ve never precluded either that we wouldn’t have to take further steps if they’re required,” Kaeding said.
“We’ve shown that in certain communities around the province that maybe weren’t able to provide the resources, that were maybe short-handed in what they could do to set up roadblocks and they asked us to help intervene and support them in those actions. So if that opportunity arises we would certainly support them in that.”
Moe downplayed that Hutterite communities are being stigmatized by reporting outbreaks in colonies.
“This isn’t a conversation or action that we like to be taking, but we’ve said we will have outbreaks across this province and we have one that is occurring right now,” he said.
“Our reporting is not about, in any way, trying to stigmatize anyone in our community. We have reported outbreaks previous to this, most notably in La Loche, but we also reported in a health centre in Lloydminster, a health centre in Prince Albert, other health centres in the province.”
The other new cases reported Wednesday are the south (three), Regina (two) and the central region (one).
Officials attributed the increase in new cases to aggressive contact tracing and increased testing.
There are currently 322 active cases in Saskatchewan, the highest active case count since the pandemic started.
Of the active cases, 143 are in the south, 78 in the central region, 58 in the north, 31 in Saskatoon and area, six in the far north and five in Regina and area.
The province reported 22 new recoveries, bringing overall recoveries to 929.
Fifteen people are currently in hospital. Five are in intensive care — three in Saskatoon and two in Regina.
Seventeen deaths have been reported in Saskatchewan due to COVID-19.
Here is a breakdown of total Saskatchewan cases by age:
- 202 people are 19 and under
- 416 people are 20 to 39
- 394 are 40 to 59
- 215 people are 60 to 79
- 41 people are 80 and over
Females make up 51 per cent of the cases, males 49 per cent.
Officials said 617 cases are linked to community contact or mass gatherings, 202 are travel-related, 299 have no known exposure and 150 are under investigation by public health.
Saskatchewan has completed 95,024 tests so far for the virus, up 1,355 from Tuesday.
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. 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. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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