Two COVID-19 outbreaks hit Weyburn, Sask.; Piapot FN outbreak over

·3 min read

As active COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan slowly decline, Weyburn is dealing with two viral outbreaks that started earlier this week, while the Piapot First Nation’s outbreak is now over.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) says an outbreak at Weyburn Special Care home started on Sunday.

By Wednesday the virus had infected seven people — residents and staff. Overall the care home hosts 90 long-term beds.

The SHA is also reporting a viral outbreak at the city’s General Hospital; it started on the building’s third floor.

The health authority’s southeast medical health officer, Dr. Lanre Medu, said his unit has amended the outbreak to cover the entire building.

“(We) made this decision for the safety of staff, patients and visitors after close consultation and further investigating the sources surrounding the original transmission case,” he said.

By Wednesday the SHA identified three positive cases at the 40-bed hospital.

“The risk of further infection remains as the SHA was unable to rule out transmission sources,” Medu said.

Christina Denysek, who handles continuing care for the SHA in the southeast region, said her agency is doing “proactive testing” for residents and staff at the care home.

“Patients who test positive are managed consistent with the existing clinical guidelines, and staff who test positive will isolate and return to work based on their health status,” she said.

North of Regina at Piapot, a community outbreak that saw four infections — first reported in late November — was last week declared over.

Three people recovered from the virus, while a fourth person died.

Elder Ron Piapot was among those who recovered, but he died of other medical complications, Chief Mark Fox told the Leader-Post.

“The doctor said he died of other causes, but COVID didn’t help,” Fox said.

Piapot was the great-grandson of the community’s founding leader, Chief Payepot, who died in 1908. Ron was born in 1934; he died on Dec. 16.

Fox confirmed the First Nation still has “our borders up,” meaning non-members aren’t allowed into the community, except for essential service workers.

After the outbreak declaration, the First Nation went into a kind of temporary lockdown, closing its school and banning members from visiting other households.

Fox, who didn’t have COVID-19 but voluntarily self-quarantined, said the community’s school is set to re-open on Monday.

“Everything is ready and in place. Classes are in smaller cohorts. And we have air purifiers,” the chief said, referencing COVID-safe measures the school started in September.

He urged the band's members to still be cautious and to only leave the community for essential items, like groceries.

Several other communities in south Saskatchewan are dealing with single or multiple active viral outbreaks. Those include Balcarres, Estevan, Fort Qu’Appelle, Indian Head, Moose Jaw, Odessa, Rocanville, Swift Current, Vibank and Wolseley.

Some of the outbreaks date back to early and mid-November, while others are more recent.

All are considered ongoing. Full details about them are available on the provincial government’s COVID-19 web portal.

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post