Saskatchewan asks residents who travelled to get tested twice for COVID-19

·2 min read

REGINA — Saskatchewan is recommending that anyone who has recently travelled outside the province should get tested twice for COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, Premier Scott Moe has rejected bringing in provincial travel restrictions, such as ones in Manitoba and Atlantic Canada, which require people entering their boundaries to quarantine for 14 days.

Moe says he knows that despite a warning from health officials against non-essential travel, some residents have left Saskatchewan this week as students are on a break.

On the advice of his chief medical health officer, Moe's Saskatchewan Party government is urging travellers to get tested upon their return and to plan for a followup test seven days later. Officials says that's the best window to catch any virus.

"The risk has changed," Moe said Thursday after touring a mass vaccination clinic being set up in Regina.

"The risk now is that you might not only contract COVID, you may contract one of the new variants."

Health officials have already discovered the strain first identified in the United Kingdom, which experts believe to be more contagious and possibly able to cause more severe illness.

The Ministry of Health said the cases in Regina and Saskatoon were travel-related and there doesn't appear to have been any spread into the community.

Moe said health officials are hoping to prevent more variant cases from entering the province, but the new testing urged for travellers is a recommendation and not mandatory.

He said he isn't ruling out a future two-week quarantine for people coming into the province. Currently, those reporting symptoms when they get tested need to self-isolate until they receive their results, but anyone who is asymptomatic does not.

"That may be a consideration at some point," said Moe.

Health officials reported another 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. There were 174 people in hospital and 23 in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press