On Christmas Day the Star Phoenix reported that the Saskatchewan government had been under-reporting the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19. This information came by way of the Christmas Eve update from the government which stated 125 people were in hospital with 104 receiving inpatient care and 21 in intensive care. The clarification came in the next paragraph. When Saskatchewan updated its definition of the infectious period for COVID-19 to match the definition being used nationally, the government states that people who were still in hospital being treated for complications of COVID-19 but were no longer considered infectious, were included in the ‘recovered’ category and not included in the hospital counts. The fact that they were in hospital as a result of COVID-19 appears to be a minor technicality.
The press release states these “are not new hospitalizations” and the Ministry of Health “is currently reviewing how these cases are reported in other Canadian jurisdictions.” In the months since the first Canadians were hospitalized with the virus, there have been numerous questions asked about the number of COVID “long-haulers”, those who continue to experience complications and health impairments as a result of the virus, but as of yet there is no official data apparently available or being released by governments or health agencies on how many individuals fall in this category. With this new clarification that to be deemed ‘recovered’ means to simply no longer be contagious, one must wonder how many “long-haulers” are out there? The definition of the verb recover in the Oxford dictionary is to “return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” and in the Collins English dictionary the adjective recovered is defined as “cured, healed, or having regained health after an illness”. In neither of these well-respected dictionaries is the definition of recovered merely ‘no longer infectious’.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health states that this misrepresentation is a result of reduction in the number of days an individual is considered infectious. This reporter was under the impression that individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to have two negative test results before they were no longer considered infectious, but this must not be the case with those in hospital or there never would have been a discrepancy. When different standards are in effect for differing groups and that information is not relayed to others who are receiving the data, all the information is then called into question. The decision makers at provincial and federal levels who decided that recovered, when used in the COVID pandemic context, had a different meaning than the generally accepted one need to be reminded that the definition of trust whether it is as a noun or a verb is “to believe in (or the belief in) the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” and the trust of the public can be a fragile thing.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder