Saskatchewan to announce added measures Friday to deal with rise in COVID-19 cases

·2 min read

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it will outline new public health measures Friday to stem the province's rising number of COVID-19 infections. 

Masks have been mandatory in indoor public spaces in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert for about a week, and there's been a cap provincewide of no more than 10 people at private indoor gatherings. Saskatoon nightclubs have had to close by 11 p.m.

Health officials reported 111 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the sixth day in a row the province recorded more than 100 new cases. 

Forty-nine people were in hospital and 13 were receiving intensive care. 

Pressure has been building on Premier Scott Moe's recently re-elected Saskatchewan Party government to get a handle on the spread of COVID-19 after a month of rising infections and hospitalizations.

Earlier Thursday, Opposition Leader Ryan Meili criticized Moe for not yet having presented a plan for dealing with the novel coronavirus. 

"This is a premier who campaigned on the idea that this was over. But it's not over. It has not been taken care of and, in fact, we're about to face our worst period yet," Meili said. 

More than 400 doctors, saying people's safety and the health-care system are at risk, signed a letter this week calling for more action from the province. 

Meili suggested Saskatchewan talk to other provinces where cases of COVID-19 are higher to get advice on how to avoid the same situation.

"Let's expand that mask mandate to the whole province and let's be looking at what could prevent us (from) getting into a situation like Manitoba, Alberta, North Dakota are in," he said. 

"We're already seeing long-term care outbreaks in Saskatchewan. We're very worried."

The Saskatchewan Health Authority announced that, effective Friday, family visits to long-term and personal care homes in Regina would be restricted for compassionate reasons only, such as when a resident is nearing death. 

Visitor access was already restricted this week to care homes in Saskatoon, Yorkton and North Battleford. 

Last week, the Regina Public Schools division announced it would start bringing in high schools students on alternating days. 

Moe said earlier this week that no added public health measures were being considered to deal with the rising COVID-19 caseload. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020

The Canadian Press