COVID-19 continues to surge in Saskatchewan as premier appoints new health minister

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COVID-19 continues to surge in Saskatchewan, with 190 new coronavirus cases reported on Monday, a new single-day high. In total, the province has 4,087 cases.

Saskatchewan also reported another death on Monday for the third consecutive day.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

The person was in their 80s and was from the North Central zone. This brings the total number of deaths in the province to 29, and is the fourth death since Saturday.

There are 1,289 active cases in the province, a record-high.

Here are where the new active cases are located:

  • Far North West: 15
  • Far North Central: one
  • Far North East: four
  • North West: 19
  • North Central: 15
  • North East: six
  • Saskatoon: 76
  • Central West: two
  • Central East: eight
  • Regina: 25
  • South West: five
  • South Central: one
  • South East: seven

The location of six cases is pending.

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As of Monday, there are 37 people in the hospital, eight of which are in intensive care.

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As COVID-19 cases continue to break new records and surge across the province, a new minister will be taking over the province’s health portfolio.

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe appointed MLA Paul Merriman as the new minister of health, a position held by MLA Jim Reiter throughout the pandemic.

Read more: Premier Scott Moe names new Saskatchewan cabinet, 1st woman in over 30 years becomes deputy premier

Reiter, who was one of the longest-serving health ministers in Canada, is now the minister of SaskBuilds and procurement.

“I take this role very seriously,” Merriman said. “It’s a very serious position.”

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The new minister of health says he will meet with the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority on Monday for a briefing. As for now, he says he will continue to stick with the plan laid out by the former health minister and Shahab.

There are no further COVID-19 restrictions currently in that plan, Merriman said.

“My role right now is to listen, get up to speed, then work with them on the decision process moving forward to make sure all of the people in our province stay safe,” Merriman said. “What are the recommendations? What are the policies of the government to make sure we don’t overwhelm our health-care system?”

Read more: Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may be 90% effective, early data suggests

Moe says taking Reiter off the health portfolio is not an indication of his performance.

“The file I asked Minister Reiter to undertake will be one of the most important files in the recoveries of our province,” Moe said as the province focuses on infrastructure to rebuild the economy.

“Our previous minister of health did an excellent job. He’s very competent and hard-working throughout not only this pandemic but throughout his more than 40 years in his health portfolio.”

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

As cases continue to surge, Moe is reinforcing his message urging compliance with public health orders.

“If our infection rates are low, our educators and students aren’t bringing them into our schools. If our infection rates are low, we’re not having those cases coming into our businesses,” Moe said.

“If our infection rates are low, we most certainly will be able to keep our economic recovery, which already is at a steady pace.”

Saskatchewan has completed 284,021 COVID-19 tests to date, an increase of 2,505 from Sunday.