COVID-19 investigation into gathering in Saskatoon

In his latest update on COVID-19 in Regina Wednesday, chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab noted that Saskatchewan Health Authority had flagged a community outbreak of COVID-19 at an event Saskatoon.

A contact tracing investigation took place that involved more than 60 people. It involved cases linked to one or more gatherings – family gatherings, said Dr. Shahab – that exceeded the gathering size of not more than 10.

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In that investigation one person has tested positive and another has tested presumptive positive. Dr. Shahab said that the event was a closed, private event and all close contacts are isolating at home, but multiple households were involved and the Saskatchewan Health Authority may issue a public service announcement if deemed appropriate.     

The latest news conference saw confirmation of two more COVID-19 deaths from the Far North region, bringing the provincial total to 10, as well as three new cases – one in the Far North and two in Regina.

“These two events – two cases in Regina and now an outbreak in Saskatoon – again is a reminder for us that even as we engage in reopening Saskatchewan, even as we look forward on June 8 and onwards indoor gathering sizes increased to 15 and outdoor gathering size going up to 30, we still have to consider carefully who are we inviting, is there another way of connecting with people by virtually or by other means, and if you do choose to have any gathering of whatever size, are people who are attending vulnerable, what can we do to minimize the risk of transmission,” said Dr. Shahab. 

When pressed for details, Dr. Shahab said he first learned of the Saskatoon event with preliminary information the night before and this morning. The information he had, he said, was that these were family events, likely outdoors around a barbeque. In this case, the indication is local medical health officer was able to contact everyone. 

He added the Saskatoon incident underscores the fact that "we cannot go back to business as usual," and "we still have to be very cautious that we still need to minimize trasmission risk where we can." 

"We already know that getting together around food is high risk," he added. As gathering sizes are increased, "we need to constantly be aware of that."

Later Wednesday afternoon, the Saskatchewan Health Authority formally issued a public service announcement declaring what they termed a "community transmission outbreak" in Saskatoon.

According to SHA, this "is the result of one confirmed positive case and one presumptive positive case between May 21 and 26. These cases are linked to two large family gatherings in early May that exceeded public health order of ten people. It is being declared an outbreak as it involves of multiple different households with transmission linked to a large gathering."

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