The number of coronavirus-related patients in Saskatchewan hospitals rose to a new high on Thursday.
In the province, 206 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19 — 173 are receiving inpatient care and 33 are in intensive care.
“There’s always a one- to two-week lag but our hospitalizations and ICU admissions have been the highest they’ve ever been. And while many of us had some time off for the holidays, our colleagues in the health-care system have been working flat out throughout November, December … the trends are very concerning,” Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said on Thursday.
“We have hospitalizations in every age range.
“We have to remember that, if we all pull together, we can turn our daily case numbers down within one to two weeks. But hospitalization, ICU admissions can be anywhere from three to four weeks or longer. So even though the numbers come down, the pressure on the acute-care system continues for many weeks longer.”
During a COVID-19 briefing, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said the province’s health-care system is at its most fragile point throughout the pandemic.
“We need the public more than ever to double down on their efforts to help support the system to be able to deliver for the people of this province,” Livingstone said.
“With all the other pressures the system is experiencing, both on the offensive side and the defensive side, and now with immunization and helping to manage outbreaks, we’re pushing ourselves to the absolute limit.”
Livingstone said the system’s ICU bed capacity is 75 beds.
“We have the ability to flex capacity but it’s 75 and we’re at 95 per cent capacity and about 34 per cent of the current ICU beds are taken up with patients,” he said.
“We do have the capacity to double that if we need to.
“When we started the planning for the pandemic, a big part of it is how we build ICU capacity across the province and repurpose not just space, but ensuring that we have the right equipment and supplies to do that as we expand and the trained staff to do that.”
No new deaths were added to Saskatchewan’s death toll which stands at 206, according to the Saskatchewan government.
Health officials said there were 312 new cases in Thursday’s update, with the overall total for the province growing to 19,329 since the first case was reported in March 2020. The new seven-day average of daily cases is down to 313.
A total of 11,985 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan as of Thursday, provincial government officials said.
The SHA announced around noon on Thursday that it would be making a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine available to people in the 70-plus age group in the north-central communities.
All vaccine clinics – including the ones announced on Wednesday – were full including Wakaw, Cudworth, Rosthern, Big River, Canwood, Shellbrook, Birch Hills, Debden, Blaine Lake, Candle Lake and Christopher Lake, according to a press release on Thursday evening.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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.