Coronavirus outbreak at Saskatoon restaurant was potential superspreader event: SHA

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WATCH: The Saskatchewan Health Authority has linked more than a dozen COVID-19 cases to Crackers Restaurant in Saskatoon and is concerned it could become much worse – Jan 11, 2021

A coronavirus outbreak at a Saskatoon restaurant is being described by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) as a potential superspreader event.

The outbreak at Crackers Restaurant on Pinehouse Drive was declared by the SHA on Jan. 8.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

The health authority said an infectious person was at the restaurant between Dec. 23, 2020, and Jan. 4, 2021.

As of Sunday, the SHA said it has identified 16 positive COVID-19 cases and said there is a significant risk for potential second-generation spread.

Crackers management said Monday in a Facebook post that the restaurant is closed until further notice for cleaning.

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“The staff and management of Crackers would like to remind our customers that the health and safety of them and their families are of the highest priority,” said the post.

“We are working closely with the SHA to ensure all precautions are being taken. That being said, Crackers will be closed until further notice to sanitize and deep clean the space.”

Individuals who were at the restaurant on any of the listed dates must immediately self-isolate for 14 days from the day of exposure, the SHA said.

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The outbreak has a University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist pleading with the public to avoid dining in restaurants for at least the next few weeks.

“We are already seeing some of the highest seven-day daily average of new cases happening in the last seven days,” Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine told Global News.He believes the province has to be more proactive with health measures to prevent widespread infection.Muhajarine added that with case numbers rising and concerns about new variants, people should consider takeout or delivery service to support local restaurants.“It is not worth it. It’s not worth your life. It’s not worth your loved ones life to be sacrificing, to be taking a chance with,” he said.

Read more: Saskatchewan restaurants, hotels prepare for pandemic winter

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Under current government of Saskatchewan rules, restaurants are allowed to be open for in-person dining.

There are a variety of restrictions, including a maximum of four people per table, all of whom must be from the same dining party.

There must also be three meters between tables if there are no physical barriers.

Restaurants also have to collect names and contact information for contact tracing purposes.

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Anyone developing symptoms should call HealthLine 811, their doctor or nurse practitioner, health officials said.

The SHA said anyone who has been in contact with public health as part of the investigation should continue to follow the directions they were provided.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccines arrive in remote First Nations across Canada

Those individuals who were at the restaurant and are now past the 14-day infectious period should still call HealthLine 811 to arrange for testing.

Health officials said while individuals may no longer be infectious, if they were COVID-19 positive, it will appear on the test result and assist them in determining if further contact tracing is required.

The SHA said people should also notify anyone they were in close contact with during the 14-day period following their exposure.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.