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Infectious disease doctor calls for lockdown in Regina as ICU beds fill, variant spreads

Click to play video: 'Infectious disease doctor calls for lockdown in Regina as ICU beds fill, variant spreads' Infectious disease doctor calls for lockdown in Regina as ICU beds fill, variant spreads
WATCH: An infectious disease physician is warning that without a lockdown, Regina isn't going be able to regain control of the situation anytime soon as COVID-19 variants spread – Mar 23, 2021

Intensive care units in Regina are nearing capacity with increasingly more coronavirus patients requiring beds, according to new provincial data released on Monday to Global News.

In total, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said that 28 out of 37 ICU beds in the city’s two hospitals were occupied as of 7:30 a.m. Monday, including 14 beds with COVID-19 patients.

An update from provincial officials around 1:30 p.m. suggested a 15th person had been admitted to the unit.

This is after both the Pasqua Hospital and Regina General Hospital, the latter of which is where all the infectious coronavirus patients are being cared for right now, added a combined 10 more beds to the facilities. Statistics provided to Global News by the SHA show that the units at both facilities would otherwise already be full.

Seven of the now nine beds at the Pasqua Hospital were occupied, according to the SHA’s Monday morning numbers. At the general hospital, which has expanded from 20 to 28 intensive care beds, there were 21 patients.

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Read more: ‘The dominant strain’: 90% of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 variant cases are in Regina

Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician in Regina, has taken to social media to keep people informed about the situation.

Wong told Global News Monday that without a lockdown, he doesn’t think Regina won’t be able to regain control of the situation anytime soon.

“I think it is impossible for us to believe that we are going to be able to get out of this without aggressive mandated measures,” Wong said. “Just relying on vaccine alone and the public messaging to date, I don’t think, it’s not going to be good enough.”

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He pointed to the increasingly prevalent, more contagious and debilitating B1.1.7 variant.

“I think the sense of urgency now is just greater, because of what we have here in our community,” he said.

Click to play video: '‘The dominant strain’: 90% of COVID-19 cases in Regina are a variant' ‘The dominant strain’: 90% of COVID-19 cases in Regina are a variant
‘The dominant strain’: 90% of COVID-19 cases in Regina are a variant – Mar 17, 2021

Regina’s coronavirus caseload has been climbing for the past week. Each Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the province reported about 100 new cases in the capital. Going into that past weekend, there were 583 active cases. Now, there are 726.

To date, 156 confirmed variant of concern cases have been reported in Saskatchewan and 141 of them have been in Regina, also the location of 640 of the 748 presumptive variant of concern cases.

Wong said more and more people, and more young people, are presenting severely ill with the coronavirus.

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“Things have not moved this fast, ever, that we have seen,” he said. “We need to do better in the community as quickly as possible.”

Wong said he thinks a lockdown similar to the one that was in place province-wide a year ago at this time would be reasonable for Regina right now.

Read more: COVID-19 variant spread prompts Regina school divisions to switch to online learning

“It would be such a tragic irony, it would be a shame, if we were to get overwhelmed at this point with this next wave before we had the opportunity to get vaccine in,” Wong said.

While he supports Saskatchewan’s immunization effort, he said the success of the rest of the rollout is linked to reining in Regina’s rapid rate of transmission.

“Regina’s really fueling these variants and fueling community transmission, which is going to spread widely throughout the province. The quicker and more aggressively we can try to get things under control here, the more time that’s going to buy us at a provincial level to get vaccine into arms and get people protected,” he said.

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