Regina– For many months, the province would put out public service announcements, alerting the public that if they had attended this gym or that grocery store at a certain time, they could have been exposed to COVID-19 and they should self-monitor for possible infection. That practice was discontinued on Nov. 13. On Nov. 17, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, explained why.
Shahab said, “If you will notice, the number of public service announcements has gone down dramatically. And that's not because the case numbers are going down. It’s because, now, every location is in a risk location. And in the past, we would make a big deal of saying, ‘Oh, if we went to this grocery store at this day, in this hour, self monitor yourself as well.’
“That's all stopped because there's no point now. Every location you should consider to be at risk of infection. Every person you're interacting with, unknowingly, maybe shedding COVID. I may be shedding today, or someone I'm talking to may be. And you have to use those universal precautions at all times physical distance and masking. And that is how we need to navigate, going forwards.”
The release from the Saskatchewan Health Authority on Nov. 14 said, “Starting Saturday, Nov. 14, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will be discontinuing self-monitoring COVID-19 Public Service Announcements (PSA) for potential exposures at business and other locations. Alerts will only be issued when self-isolation only is immediately required.
“COVID-19 is everywhere in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan’s medical health officers are asking all Saskatchewan residents to self-monitor for COVID symptoms, regardless of where you live in this province. In addition, every resident is asked to ensure you and your family members stay up to date and are following all the guidelines and public health orders. This information can be found in detail at Saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.
“COVID-19 PSA alerts will remain an important tool for primary health care teams. However, these will only be issued at the direction of local medical health officers when they have determined a notification of the broader public is required to inform individuals who may have attended a location or business to immediately self-isolate and seek testing.
“These alerts will be issued based on the clinical discretion of the local medical health officer and occur when the following three key criteria are met: all contacts cannot be notified within 48 hours, there is a resulting increased risk to the public, and the direction is needed for public members in attendance to immediately self-isolate as a result of this increased risk.
“Reasonable effort will be made to notify business and locations in advance that they will be named in these PSAs. However, this may not always be possible,” the release concluded.
Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury