Low community spread key to keeping COVID-19 out of Saskatchewan schools

Click to play video: 'Low community spread key to keeping COVID-19 out of Saskatchewan schools'
Low community spread key to keeping COVID-19 out of Saskatchewan schools
Back-to-school safety was again a big topic of discussion during the Aug. 28, 2020, provincial COVID-19 update. But Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer also had a message of caution for those without any school ties. Connor O’Donovan has more – Aug 29, 2020

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says the best way to keep COVID-19 out of schools is to keep community transmission of the virus low.

Dr. Saqib Shahab says he’s reviewed different studies that found schools mirror what’s happening in surrounding areas.

For more than a week, public health officials in Saskatchewan have been reporting only a handful of new cases after recent outbreaks on Hutterite colonies that contributed to a period of double-digit infection increases this summer.

Of the 1,611 total cases to date, the Ministry of Health says 482 have no known exposure and 71 infections are being investigated.

Officials on Friday reported two more infections and say the province is down to 44 active cases, about half of which are on colonies.

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province now boasts one of the lowest rates of active infections outside the Maritimes.

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“The fact that we have low community transmission is the most important thing we can do to minimize the chance of a case or a cluster emerging in school,” Shahab said at a news conference Friday.

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“That’s No. 1.”

With classes resuming Sept. 8 and more people moving inside as the summer heat cools, Shahab encouraged residents to keep their group of close contacts small.

He also said it’s natural for families to worry about sending their children to school in a pandemic.

Canada’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said parents should expect to see cases of the virus in schools.

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Shahab said what he’s reviewed shows that, generally, the transmission of COVID-19 isn’t as effective in young children as it is in adults.

“The evidence we have seen and with all the (safety) layers that have been applied is that they’ll be less common than what we’ve seen in our workplaces,” he said.

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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.

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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.

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

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