COVID-19 in Sask: 37 cases now linked to The Longbranch bar in Saskatoon

·3 min read

The province says 37 of Saskatoon's confirmed COVID-19 cases have been linked to a single nightclub venue, The Longbranch in Saskatoon.

The Saskatoon country bar is owned by the Ramada hotel chain and was flagged earlier this month by health officials for a possible COVID-19 exposure.

The bar had earlier promoted its "redneck dance cubes."

Saskatchewan reported 33 new COVID-19 cases in the province on Friday, bringing the total number of known cases to 2,591. Almost 500 of those cases are people 19 years of age and under.

There are now 511 cases considered active.

Despite the increase in cases over the last two weeks, including two days with 60 or more new cases, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said there are no immediate plans for new restrictions.

"[Earlier] we reduced indoor gatherings in homes to 15," Shahab said. "We think that will have a moderating effect."

The Longbranch/Facebook
The Longbranch/Facebook

Shahab said we shouldn't have a 'knee jerk reaction against entire sectors' like nightclubs when there are a couple of outbreaks.

He said public health officials are reviewing guidelines and working with business owners to modify their operating procedures as more is known about how the disease is transmitted.

"Everyone wants to prevent large outbreaks, but at the same time we can't prevent small transmission events. We already know this as we reopened. So we are learning from events that happen about what further can we improve and update guidelines from those learnings," he said.

"I think many bars and restaurants are looking at their business operations, making sure that they are not exceeding their capacity limits and maybe even reducing the capacity limits."

Shahab said more restrictions might have to be implemented if case numbers continue to rise.

"But again, I think at this point, our case numbers are such that we really need to bring this down as a collective effort."

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Nine of the new cases announced Friday are in the Regina area, and five are in the north central zone.

The northeast, southeast, and Saskatoon zones each reported four new cases, while the northwest and central east zones each had three new cases.

One new case is in the far northwest zone. Twenty people are in hospital with COVID-19.

Sixteen people are receiving in-patient care; nine in the Saskatoon zone, one in the Regina zone, one in the northwest zone, and five in the north central zone. Four people are in intensive care; three in Saskatoon and one in Regina.

Thirty-one more people have recovered from the illness, bringing the total recoveries to 2,055, and there have been 25 deaths related to COVID-19 in the province.

To date, 242,500 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Saskatchewan.

On Thursday, 2,297 COVID-19 tests were performed in the province.

Schools

Shahab said there have been 62 combined cases in 50 schools across the province.

Twenty-two schools are still dealing with an active case and seven of those have more than one case.

Shahab said the relatively low number of cases shows that measures taken in schools are working.

"Schools have demonstrated that you can have these events where you have a number of people in an indoor setting," he said. "You can't prevent every case from presenting in a school setting, but you can try to prevent larger outbreaks."