Coronavirus: Severity of next COVID-19 wave depends on public

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COVID-19 numbers have never been higher across the province. Health experts say it's up to us to stop a second wave by continuing to follow SHA-issued guidelines – Nov 1, 2020

The COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across Saskatchewan.

The trend is completely different than what the province experienced over the summer months when there were many days of single-digit positive cases. Fast forward to this past Sunday, when the government announced a new single-day record of 159 new COVID-19 cases.

Saskatchewan Health Authority clinical microbiologist Joseph Blondeau says people are itching to get back to their pre-pandemic ways. It’s a response to what he calls pandemic fatigue.

“Everybody is just looking for an opportunity to have some type of return to normal of whatever that is normal was for you prior to the pandemic occurring.”

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

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With the reopening of the province throughout the summer and the return to schools, there is a greater chance for people to be closer together on a more frequent basis. Places like gyms, bars, restaurants, and churches have the potential to be ground zero for superspreader events if someone was COVID-19 positive and didn’t realize it. Health experts can’t stress enough about the importance of limiting visits to public venues.

Kyle Anderson, an assistant professor in biochemistry, microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, says a COVID-19 positive person is continually filling the air with the virus.

“As time progresses, even if you are 20-feet away, you could still be breathing in essentially that secondhand smoke of COVID particles,” Anderson said.

Read more: Trick-or-treaters potentially exposed to COVID-19 in Meath Park, Sask., says SHA

He says in the winter months especially, the water droplets areoles we project into the air linger for a longer period of time when the temperature drops. That’s something we have to keep in mind as we near the heart of winter.

Wearing masks, washing your hands, and physical distancing are important measures we must do daily in order to keep COVID-19 at bay— at least, that is, until a cure or vaccine is developed. Keeping your COVID-19 bubble consistent is crucial to ensuring future restrictions are not put in place. It comes down to personal responsibility.

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“We can’t just start crowding and mingling beyond our household,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer. “As long as we are able to do that, hopefully, we keep these venues open.”

Read more: Unemployed Indigenous workers disproportionately suffering from COVID-19 economy compared to non-Indigenous

Shahab says making masks mandatory in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert was a necessary measure to help contain coronavirus spread.

Without this mindset, there is no telling how much of an impact a second wave could have on the province. Health officials say it is up to us and the decisions we make that will ultimately control the spread of the virus.

“Collectively as a population we all need to be doing this,” Blondeau said.

Click to play video 'Regina psychology professor helps develop COVID-19 stress scales' Regina psychology professor helps develop COVID-19 stress scales
Regina psychology professor helps develop COVID-19 stress scales – Nov 4, 2020

Anderson says we must protect those who are more susceptible to catching a serious case of COVID-19.

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“If you spread it to other people in your cohort and they spread it to their parents, then their grandparents, we could rapidly get into a situation where we can’t stop transmission.”

Without adhering to SHA issued safety protocols, the experts say, Saskatchewan will continue to see COVID-19 cases climb.