New COVID-19 variant in Sask. would not trigger new measures: Dr. Shahab

·2 min read
New COVID-19 variant in Sask. would not trigger new measures: Dr. Shahab

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says current health measures will "remain exactly the same" if a more transmissible COVID-19 variant is detected in the province.

Dr. Saqib Shahab said Tuesday that Saskatchewan has been actively monitoring for new strains of the virus that could be more transmissible or deadly.

"Any infection causes variations or variants over time and that has been tracked throughout the pandemic," Shahab said during a news conference.

He said some variants are more concerning, like ones detected in the U.K. and South Africa. In recent weeks, some newer strains have been found up in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

In Saskatchewan, samples are being taken from people who travelled, or are close contacts of someone who travelled.

"Your sampling is sent for testing to see if it is a strain that is commonly transmitted or it's a variant. And there's some sampling done by age groups and geography as well," Shahab said.

WATCH | Sask. will not introduce new measures if COVID-19 variant detected:

Bracing for the new variant

Shahab said he "would not be surprised if we saw a variant in Saskatchewan."

"But again, what we are doing will remain exactly the same," Shahab said.

"We really have to follow all these public health measures to keep transmission rates down, and these measures work against the variant and they work against the current strains."

He said this includes not travelling unless it's essential.

"Generally travel rates are down internationally, but I do think we need to keep them down in the next two to three months until our vaccine uptake comes up," Shahab said.

No further restrictions on travellers as seen in Manitoba

Starting Friday, anyone entering Manitoba, including people coming from Western Canada, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Exemptions are being made to those who require to travel for work or medical reasons, or people who live in border communities and need to travel for essential reasons.

Shahab said Saskatchewan will explore Manitoba's decision further, but "at this point, the safest measures are what we're doing at the moment."

"Obviously we'll look at all options, but at this moment it is not practical," Shahab said.

WATCH | 14-day quarantine mandatory for all entering Manitoba: