COVID testing sparse in Saskatoon for holidays as expert slams Moe's decision to not implement restrictions

·2 min read
The drive-thru testing site in Saskatoon will be closed Dec. 24 to 27, Dec. 31, as well as Jan. 1 to 2. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The drive-thru testing site in Saskatoon will be closed Dec. 24 to 27, Dec. 31, as well as Jan. 1 to 2. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Saskatoon is closed Friday and will remain closed for several days this holiday season, as the province adds the highest number of new COVID cases since October.

The testing site on Thatcher Avenue will be closed Dec. 24 to 27, Dec. 31, as well as Jan. 1 to 2.

You can still get a test at the location during those days if you have a booked appointment, however.

Testing sites in other cities will still be open during the holidays. For example, the drive-thru testing site at the Old Costco Building in Regina is open all the days above except Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

You can find a full list of testing hours and locations here.

There will also be a lag on the province's COVID situation. The provincial COVID dashboard, which includes new cases and hospitalizations, will not be updated from Dec. 24 to 27 and Jan. 1 to 3. Information from those dates will be available on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

Nearly 200 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Saskatchewan on Thursday, marking the highest increase in COVID-19 cases since October of this year.

Fifty-two new cases of the Omicron variant — the largest one-day spike — were confirmed, bringing the total to 145 cases of the variant in Saskatchewan.

Premier playing from 'different playbook': epidemiologist

It's this rise in cases and the threat of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant that's concerning Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Saskatchewan.

He says it's "disappointing" that Saskatchewan is the only province without gathering or capacity limits for the Christmas and New Year's Day holiday weekends.

Premier Scott Moe said his government is tracking the spread of the Omicron variant in Saskatchewan but does not want to impose measures that would "take away your personal freedoms."

Muhajarine said the premier seems to be playing from a "different playbook."

"I don't know what that playbook is about. I don't know who wrote that and I don't know what evidence, information that it is drawing from and it is very, very disappointing right now," Muhajarine said.

However, Moe warned that the provincial government could introduce large gathering limits next week.

In a video message posted on his social media Thursday, Moe said people can help limit the spread of COVID-19 by using a rapid test. He also is encouraging people to get their third dose of the vaccine.

Data from the month of November shows that death from COVID-19 is approximately five times higher among unvaccinated residents compared to fully vaccinated ones, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Vaccine clinics, for both walk-in and booked appointments, are still open throughout the holiday period. Click here for time and location details.

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