Doctor, NDP say policy guides Saskatchewan government’s COVID-19 response


An infectious disease physician and the official opposition both believe policy is guiding the Saskatchewan government’s response to COVID-19.

The two spoke a day after Premier Scott Moe announced the province is transferring six COVID patients to Ontario to help ease the burden of overcrowded intensive care units.

Both said the province needs to do more to protect residents from the disease.

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Dr Alex Wong, in Regina, said he believed the government was using “a certain reasoning, of a political nature, which prevents our elected officials, especially our Minister of Health and our Prime Minister, from implementing interventions. clear in terms of public health… ”.

NDP health spokesperson Vicki Mowat said the government was ignoring advice from the province’s chief medical officer, Dr Saqib Shahab.

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“We ask that in future all of Dr Shahab’s recommendations be made public,” she told reporters.

“Enough of the politics behind the scenes,” Mowat said, saying Health Minister Paul Merriman should be as outspoken as possible.

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In a press conference with the Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) leadership team on Monday, Dr Shahab said he strongly recommends people limit themselves to two or three households for private gatherings. .

Shahab’s advice is just that – a recommendation. Saskatchewan is the only province or territory without any form of restrictions or government guidelines on picking size restrictions.

The province also recorded the highest per capita death rate in the past two weeks, with 5.7 deaths per 100,000 population, according to the federal government.

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“There’s a reason (the collection size restrictions have) been literally implemented across the country except us,” Wong said from his Regina office, stating that even people who have been vaccinated can transmit the virus. .

The situation in the province’s intensive care units, he said, was dire.

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“We know that informal triage takes place at the bedside, (doctors) again have to make tough decisions about who has access to resources and who does not.”

And things could get even worse.

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The University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Safety, which tracks the COVID-19 virus load in the water of several cities, recorded a 109% increase in Saskatoon from October 7 to 13 compared to the week former.

Toxicologist John Giesy, team member and former Canada Research Chair, said Thanksgiving celebrations helped spread the virus.

Giesy said just because the viral load has doubled doesn’t mean new cases will double, but told Global News the figure may give a clue to what the city will be experiencing soon.

“Hospitalizations are a week to two weeks behind our numbers,” he said.

“So by the time people get sick, they end up sick enough to be in the hospital and diagnosed, (it) takes a while.”

“What we don’t know now,” he continued, “is what’s going to happen when the weather turns cold. It’s the next big unknown.

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Global News reached out to Moe and Merriman’s offices to ask which health measures Shahab had recommended since July 11 and which of them the government had adopted.

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Global News also asked the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health if they would implement assembly size restrictions in light of the doubling of viral load after Thanksgiving.

The Saskatoon Public Safety Agency, which coordinates the PEOC, responded.

A statement said the PEOC “takes a strategic approach to requests for resources, to ensure that requests meet the needs of the province at all times.”

“There doesn’t seem to be a clear end in sight at this point,” Wong said, referring to the pandemic, saying he and other frontline workers will struggle over the next few weeks.

“If there’s no further action, then we’ll just see how it goes. We are going to fend for ourselves. “

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