‘Superspreader event’: Saskatoon party linked to 21 coronavirus cases

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on Thursday reported seven new cases of COVID-19 and said that a number of recent cases were linked to one private social gathering held in Saskatoon. He said 21 cases have been traced to the gathering, with more expected to be traced in the coming days – Sep 18, 2020

A party at a private residence in Saskatoon is the latest coronavirus superspreader event in Saskatchewan, says the province’s chief medical health officer.

According to Dr. Saqib Shahab, 47 people attended the recent party, with 21 cases of COVID-19 now linked to the gathering.

“Things like this can snowball quickly, and that’s what we need to avoid,” Shahab said on Thursday.

Read more: Positive coronavirus cases reported at 2 Saskatoon schools

One or two schoolchildren who attended the event are also in self-isolation, Shahab added, with the investigation ongoing.

“The best way we can keep COVID-19 away from our schools is to keep it at a low infection in our communities, and events like this don’t help,” said Premier Scott Moe.

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As of Thursday, there are 50 active cases of COVID-19 in the Saskatoon area, which has become the new coronavirus hotspot in the province. Shahab says the majority of the cases in the area are linked to the private party and inter-provincial travel.

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The host of the party has since been fined $2,000 under the province’s public health order which limits all gatherings to 30 people as long as there’s enough space to maintain a two-metre distance.

Gathering sizes should be smaller if there isn’t enough room to maintain the two-metre space.

Read more: Civilian member of Saskatoon police tests positive for coronavirus

No guests were fined. Shahab said it’s more important to focus on educating over enforcement.

Most of the superspreader events in Saskatchewan have been in social settings, often involving the service of food and drinks, according to the government.

“It takes just one infected person to pass the virus on to many guests,” Moe said.

With Thanksgiving less than a month away, Shahab is asking people to carefully plan their events.

“Think about who is part of your extended or virtual household, and try to stick to that because it’s worked so well for us,” Shahab said.

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Read more: How ‘superspreading’ helps drive the coronavirus pandemic

When meeting up with three to five households, guests can be closer than two-metres apart. However, if it’s a larger gathering ensure there’s two metres between guests, and food is served plated, Shahab said.

“People shouldn’t be gathering around a buffet because that’s how transmission happens,” Shahab said.

While social gatherings have been linked to several superspreader events, the province says socializing in a safe manner is possible as long as people continue to wash hands, don’t hug, and maintain their distance.

“I know we all probably tend to relax those practices in our own home and where we feel comfortable,” Moe said. “But those are the places we need to be particularly careful.”