COVID-19: Sask numbers surge worries parent, doctor

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COVID-19: Sask numbers surge worries parent, doctor
WATCH: Driving Saskatchewan’s surge in COVID-19 cases is the highly contagious Omicron variant, with the province is reporting 117 confirmed cases and 1,992 probable cases – Jan 5, 2022

Alex Marz’s 16-year-old son may have been exposed to COVID-19 on his first day back to school.

Marz said he received an email on Tuesday from Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School in Regina, stating a fellow student in his son’s class had tested positive for the disease.

The letter, which Marz shared with Global News, stated “students … may be considered close contacts for up to 14 days after this notification.”

“Getting that email at the end of the day, on the first day, was completely jarring,” he said, in an interview.

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Marz said he and his household are nervous, though his oldest son isn’t exhibiting any symptoms. They’re following provincial guidelines monitoring for any changes. They’re also using rapid tests every day.

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The new infection that prompted the letter is likely one of nearly two thousand new cases the Saskatchewan government reported on Tuesday, the first data it released since Dec. 31.

The new cases push the seven-day average to 515 from 335.

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Dr. Adam Ogieglo said those figures are likely a vast underrepresentation.

“There’s just a lot of COVID around,” he told Global News.

“You can kind of consider it everywhere.”

Ogieglo is a family physician who also works at an urgent care clinic in Saskatoon.

He said about a third of the patients he’s testing for COVID are positive, a rate he said is the highest he’s ever seen.

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And, he said many of those testing positive have been vaccinated, with two and even three doses.

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He said symptoms, testing and transmissibility are key challenge points to the current wave of infections.

“I’ve had patients that have had rapid tests done at home that have been negative, and then the PCR test comes back positive,” he said.

He told Global News most of the people he sees at Lakeside Medical Clinic for what tests eventually reveal to be COVID have body aches and headaches or maybe a sore throat and a cough.

“You don’t have to have any specific symptom for it to be COVID,” he stated. “But (the diagnosis) can sometimes be very tricky to track down. And that’s why the PCR test becomes so important.”

He said anyone displaying any COVID symptoms should isolate.

Even though Omicron appears milder than Delta, Ogieglo said he’s worried patients will once again flood the health-care system.

“We talk about mild symptoms. Mild to me just means you don’t need to be in the hospital,” stating the disease is still serious.

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Omicron’s high rate of transmissibility means many people will get sick and some will need hospital care, he said.

That increased pressure on the health-care system means the province will again have to slow procedures and patients will again have their surgeries postponed.

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“I hate having to tell my patients that the surgery is canceled. I feel awful … patients that have had canceled knee replacements and other essential treatments.”

He told Global News he’s frustrated with government inaction, stating proactive measures would prevent that strain on hospitals, health-care workers and patients.

Marz, who said he is a member of the Saskatchewan NDP, said he also wished the provincial government would take stronger action, and that schools would move to remote learning.

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Premier Scott Moe and other ministers have repeatedly said they will not impose further restrictions, though haven’t ruled out doing so later on.

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