More COVID-19 restrictions will save lives, Saskatchewan doctor says

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WATCH: Doctors in Saskatchewan have again asked the government for further restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19. On Monday, Global News told you about a letter sent by 21 medical health officers. One of those doctors is issuing a stark warning about what could happen if the health-care system is pushed even further. – Oct 26, 2021

A doctor, who is also an epidemiologist and interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), said more restrictions will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

But a lack of restrictions will continue to flood hospitals with patients, he warned.

“If nothing is done, we could be in this sustained pressure on our health-care system and potentially into collapse between now and January,” Dr. Cory Neudorf said.

Read more: Saskatchewan health advisors ask for more COVID-19 restrictions — again

On Oct. 21, Saskatchewan’s medical health officers, who advise government leaders, wrote a letter to health minister Paul Merriman asking for more restrictions.

The letter was made public late Monday.

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In it, doctors are calling for gatherings on private indoor settings for 28 days, though the severity depends on the vaccination status of the household.

Among other things, the doctors say venues for events like weddings and funerals should reduce capacity to one quarter, unless they only permit individuals who are masked and fully vaccinated inside.

They also say more places should check vaccine statuses, and all places should only check vaccine statuses, saying a negative COVID test isn’t sufficient.

Read more: Sask. residents may soon be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations at the doctor’s office

As recently as the day prior, Premier Scott Moe stated he would not impose more restrictions, telling a room of business leaders it isn’t fair to restrict the freedoms of a population which is mostly vaccinated. He later referred to gathering size limits as “stopgap measures.”

Neudorf said that’s exactly what a health-care system in crisis requires.

He also stressed the measures are temporary and said businesses can and should still operate, so long as they do so with sufficient precautions.

“You don’t have to make this a false dichotomy of the economy or responding to the pandemic,” he said.

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“But (what) we want to do is make sure that the health system is there for people when they need it.”

The provincial government has not enacted any new measures since Oct. 21, when the health officers sent the letter.

In a statement on Tuesday, a government spokesperson said their response is forthcoming.

The official opposition accused Moe of putting politics ahead of people’s lives.

“This is a premier who looked at the information, had the advice from the health experts and chose to go his own way,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said.

“And as a result, hundreds of people have died.”

Read more: Saskatchewan orders 112K COVID-19 vaccine doses for 5 to 11 year olds

Neudorf said the province’s reliance solely on vaccinations was frustrating.

“Even if everyone who’s unimmunized came to get immunized today, they still have to get two doses in and wait a few weeks after the second dose before it will take effect,” he said.

Modelling for COVID-19 cases, from the Public Health Agency of Canada and presented at SHA doctors town halls, previously showed the surge now overflowing from hospitals.

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Last Friday the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, told reporters the province is trending on the high side of the projections.

The trajectory is still set to get worse.

Neudorf said he hopes the government listens this time.

Health officers sent another letter in August. The government enacted some of the recommendations, but only weeks later.

“We’ll see a continued smouldering of this wave at a high level and continued pressure on our system for the next foreseeable months,” he said.

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