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COVID-19: Saskatchewan renews call for adherence due to ICU patients, variants

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s top doctor renews call for vigilance amid recent cluster outbreaks' Saskatchewan’s top doctor renews call for vigilance amid recent cluster outbreaks
WATCH: Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahb renewed calls for vigilance as more transmissible COVID-19 variants continue to make up the majority of cases in the province and after a recent cluster of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. was found in parts of the province. Another cluster of 5 cases of the P.1 Brazilian variant was also found in the south west part of Saskatchewan – Apr 20, 2021

Saskatchewan hit a new high with 51 COVID-19 patients reported in intensive care at the province’s hospitals on Tuesday.

During the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s last physician town hall on April 15, medical health officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo said the province was at a very critical juncture.

“The key message for us is, the variants of concern (VOC), even for us in Saskatchewan, have increased … the demand for hospitalization and ICU services,” he said last week.

“Staff are seriously taxed, it’s been over a year. We’ve been hard at this work. So we still need to hang in there. We’re not giving up.

“Our acute care system, particularly in the southern hospitals and ICUs, are really feeling the surge at this point. The current trajectory is really, really concerning. ICU capacity is increasingly stretched with younger, sicker patients being admitted to hospital and our ability to take care of other illnesses or to deal with the long-term COVID is again being threatened because of the high burden of COVID surge that we’re seeing.”

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Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan expands AstraZeneca age eligibility to 40, extends public health orders

The province’s hospitals are currently providing care for 195 patients with COVID-19 — 144 are receiving inpatient care and 51 are in ICU.

On the same day that public health measures were extended to May 10, Premier Scott Moe said an eye is being kept on health-care capacity.

“With respect to the hospitalizations here in Saskatchewan, they’re higher than I think anyone would like to see them in particular here in Regina. We do have provincial health care capacity, although with the concentration of (VOC) here in Regina, we do have significant pressure,” Moe said on Tuesday.

“We do need to keep an eye on our health-care capacity, most certainly. And we are keeping an eye on that.

“The next couple of weeks are probably some of the most crucial time that we have been in the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular here in our capital city and the surrounding area … And ultimately, the way for lower hospitalization numbers is for us to continue to provide and accept those vaccines in the general population.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan extends restrictions to May 10 due to high COVID-19 hospitalizations' Saskatchewan extends restrictions to May 10 due to high COVID-19 hospitalizations
Saskatchewan extends restrictions to May 10 due to high COVID-19 hospitalizations – Apr 20, 2021

SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said if other ICUs in the province start to experience what Regina does, “we’re going to be in real trouble.”

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“We are on bypass in Regina and those Regina cases in ICU represent two-thirds of all cases across the province. So it’s important … for folks to double down on, not just getting vaccinated but also adhering to all public health orders and getting tested as quickly as possible so that we can follow-up on cases and get in front of this virus,” he said.

“It’s a real risk for the system and it’s important that people understand that risk.”

Read more: Saskatchewan premier declines opposition’s invitation to tour Regina ICU

Following the first P.1 Brazilian variants being detected in the province, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said on Tuesday that it’s important to not let one’s guard down and stay the course.

“We don’t want Saskatoon to escalate like Regina and so far, with current measures, it seems to be working but, again, everyone needs to diligently follow all the guidelines. One or two superspreader events like, unfortunately, happen in the southwest can tip the balance to rapid growth,” he said.

“Obviously, we are at a critical point right now.”

Health officials said on Tuesday there were 247 new cases, with the overall infection total in Saskatchewan now at 38,651. The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 infections was down from 284 on April 15 to Tuesday’s 247.

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