A Saskatoon doctor called Saskatchewan’s latest restrictions are a good step, but said the province should go further to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I certainly think that some of the more restrictive measures are a really good thing. I think that more could be done and should be done and should be done immediately,” Dr. Hassan Masri told Global News.
Masri is one of several hundred doctors who signed an open letter to Premier Scott Moe several weeks ago calling for firmer action and stronger leadership.
He renewed that call a day after Moe, speaking remotely from his home in Shellbrook after being potentially exposed to the novel coronavirus, announced the latest restrictions.
He criticized the government’s decision to keep recreational facilities open because that’s where recent Saskatchewan Health Authority data shows 25 per cent of community transmission takes place.
He told Global News the province’s response to the pandemic should be guided by three things: keeping people safe and ensuring the health-care system isn’t overwhelmed, keeping schools open and helping businesses thrive.
“Keeping bingo halls or keeping theatres or keeping casinos open is not something that is essential or achieves any of these three principles and, in fact, may lead to more transmission,” he said, speaking via Zoom.
He said the guidelines need to be effective and based on what data show is likely going to happen, not what the province is currently experiencing.
“When you play catch up or when you do tweaks and restrictions to just keep up with COVID-19, COVID-19 wins all the time because it’s seven to 14 days ahead of you,” he said, pointing to the spiking number of cases in the Peel region in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta as examples of the consequences of laggard restrictions.
On Wednesday, the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said the forthcoming measures” have been evidence-informed and proportionate to the transmission risk”
Masri said failing to take proper precautions now means stricter measures will once again be needed later.
“The battle against COVID-19 is not a battle in which we have no say… this is a battle that we are making conscious choices about.”
He said individual behaviour was an important second component of stopping the spread of the disease in Saskatchewan, adding that measures taken by the government don’t dissolve the responsibilities of the citizen.
“Even if restrictions are enforced and even if restrictions are advanced, personal responsibility is paramount,” he told Global News.
He also stressed he did not want another lockdown and that good restrictions could prevent one from being necessary.
He said mental health is often tied to financial health and a lockdown could be harmful to both.
Ultimately, he said his concern and the concern of other doctors if for their fellow citizens.
“They’re our neighbours, they’re our cousins, they’re our families,” he said. “This is our city, this is our province and so we can’t thrive if they don’t thrive.”