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Opposition accuses Saskatchewan premier of delaying COVID-19 response

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan’s top doctor calls uptick in COVID-19 cases first ‘true wave’' Coronavirus: Saskatchewan’s top doctor calls uptick in COVID-19 cases first ‘true wave’
When asked about a second COVID-19 wave on Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said interpretations of which wave the province is in are best left to medical professionals. The province's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said that he views the uptick in cases across the province as the first "true wave" during the pandemic. – Nov 3, 2020

Saskatchewan’s Opposition leader says Premier Scott Moe is pandering to those in the province resistant to additional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Ryan Meili suggested Moe saw the trend of rising cases during the provincial election campaign but decided to wait until after the Oct. 26 vote to take action.

Read more: ‘An unnecessary exemption’: New mask rules different for people exercising in Saskatchewan gyms

“There are people (who) are understandably resistant to changes, resistant to things that could reduce transmission and this is a government that has not wanted to bother anyone,” he said Friday.

“As a result, doing what’s politically convenient, what’s politically easy, they’ve put us at greater risk of more people getting sick and losing their lives.”

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Click to play video 'Masks now mandatory in public places in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert' Masks now mandatory in public places in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert
Masks now mandatory in public places in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert – Nov 6, 2020

Starting Friday, masks must be worn in indoor public spaces in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert – cities where a majority of the new spread is happening.

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The maximum limit for people allowed to gather inside a home also dropped to 10 from 15.

Health officials reported 87 new cases, which included nine from earlier in the week that were delayed because of a technical issue in the lab, on Friday.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

The province set a new record Thursday for cases in a single day with 129 new infections.

Meili said Moe campaigned on a message that COVID-19 was under control and residents deserve more information around the current spread of the novel coronavirus.

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“I think they will continue to pander to those who are resistant to making the right choices instead of actually showing leadership.”

Click to play video 'Regina family welcomes mandatory masks' Regina family welcomes mandatory masks
Regina family welcomes mandatory masks – Nov 6, 2020

Meili believes the public ought to know what the current infection rate is, and get the chance to see some updated modelling that details how many more people could be infected given case numbers have been steadily creeping up for the past month.

The NDP also renewed its calls for shrinking classroom sizes and expanding testing capacity, and wants clarity around how mandatory masks will be enforced.

Read more: Masks now mandatory in public places in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert

In a statement, Moe rejected the suggestion that political considerations were factored into the response around COVID-19, and called Meili’s words irresponsible.

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“Our government has consistently acted on the advice of public health officials throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have no time for Mr. Meili’s ill-advised attempts at politicizing our response to COVID-19,” he said Friday.

“These statements only serve as an insult to the professionalism of the dedicated public health officials that have provided sound guidance.”