'It is real': Sask. Health Authority chief medical officer frustrated at COVID-19 denial as cases rise

·2 min read

Dr. Susan Shaw says she's getting frustrated with people in Saskatchewan downplaying the danger of COVID-19.

Speaking at a Saskatchewan Health Authority event on Thursday, the chief medical officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority said the health system is under strain by the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and people need to take the issue seriously.

"It's so frustrating when I get emails, I get letters, I get phone calls, I get texts and tweets from people saying, 'This isn't real and you're exaggerating. It's not really happening.'

"I just have to say it is real. I cannot tell you enough how real this is."

Shaw is a practicing doctor, and had just completed a shift at Saskatoon's St. Paul's Hospital before making her remarks.

She said the extra patients are straining the system, and many people are having to work extra shifts to keep up with the demand.

"I've worked for 20 years in intensive care units," she said.

"This is a sustained increase in very sick people for the longest period of time that I think we've ever seen. And we know it's going to continue for the weeks to come."

'What patients really need is staff'

Shaw said the health authority has plans to take care of more patients, but staff numbers are limited.

"We can have machines, we can have space, we can have equipment, but what patients really need is staff and they need nurses, many doctors, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, dietitians, housekeepers, special care aides," she said.

"These are the biggest resource we have and they're our biggest asset."

While she said staff are doing well, the pressure is on.

"We are tired and people are really sick," she said.

"They require a lot of care and we are there for them and we want to be able to be there for them."

On Thursday, the province reported 299 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths.