One year has ended and a new one begun, but the COVID-19 virus continues to wage its war on the people of the world, especially the elderly. December 2020 proved to be the most deadly in Saskatchewan to date with 108 out of a pandemic total of 155 deaths recorded in the last 31 days of the year. Of those 108, every adult age group recorded at least one death, but by far the hardest hit were those aged 80 or over with 67 deaths recorded between December 1st and 31st. With an additional 18 deaths in the 70 to 79 age group, a total of 85 seniors over the age of 70 are no longer with us and that represents 79% of the deaths last month. Only three days, December 5, 11, and 16 had no deaths toreport from the previous 24 hrs. Saskatchewan was lucky in the first wave of the pandemic, to be able to keep the virus from making its way into our long-term care facilities, but that luck didn’t hold and outbreaks have been reported in every corner of the province, with the latest on December 29that Lakeview Pioneer Lodge in Wakaw. At the time the outbreak was declared there was only one reported confirmed case, but unconfirmed reports from anonymous sources have placed the number at 4 with more than a dozen residents isolating within two days of the declaration of the outbreak.
As the Wakaw community at large prepares to deal with the possibility of virus transmission within the community, it is more important now than ever to take all the precautions necessary to protect the vulnerable in the town and the surrounding areas. Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain a two metre physical distance from people outside your household, and most importantly DO NOT leave your home to run errands or go to work or school if you feel unwell.
The symptoms of COVID-19, says Dr. Darren P. Mareiniss, an Emergency Medicine physician in Philadelphia who also practices critical care at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Centre, tend to follow a particular order in presentation. “While symptoms can appear in a certain order, it doesn’t always happen that way,” he cautioned.1 However, based on what he has witnessed firsthand, generally one of the first things people will notice is extreme exhaustion or fatigue between two and ten days after exposure. The next usual symptom is muscle aches and pains similar to those associated with the flu, which is usually then followed by chills and/or a fever. These initial symptoms are usually followed for many patients by the development of a dry cough. For some individuals, they will go on to develop shortness of breath typically between six to ten days after the initial development of symptoms and they can become significantly sicker, becoming weaker and developing hypoxia.
Not everyone will develop all these symptoms, but some will develop all of these and more including headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or a runny nose, and even nausea or vomiting. Some people experience no symptoms at all but are still actively contagious. Some report that COVID-19 for them was like a bad cold, while still others report being the sickest they have ever felt. Anyone, at any age, can have either mild or severe symptoms and anywhere on the spectrum in between.
Saskatoon’s Dr. Hassan Masri, an Intensive Care Specialist, has been a calming voice of reason on social media, debunking myths and encouraging the best in people. In his profile on the SHA’s Faces of the Fight, he reminds everyone that “it’s important that we negate and avoid any further tragedies in our province by staying home when we can, washing our hands, limiting our bubbles, hiding our smiles with a mask and showing our creativity to spread science, hope and health.” Dr. Masri also commented after the death of 25 yr. old Savannah Noon that the idea of young people being safe from COVID-19 is not only untrue, but also dangerous and “a myth that has been very damaging in the fight against COVID-19. It’s not true, period. No truth to it at all.”2
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder