Spike in COVID-19 cases includes the northwest region

There is a spike in COVID-19 cases underway across the province, and the Battlefords and surrounding area have not been spared.

According to the latest figures released Tuesday by the province there are 44 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, following up on a record high of 66 new cases reported on Monday.

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Across the province there are now 427 active cases of COVID-19 as well as 18 people in hospital as of Tuesday, including two in ICU.

In the Northwest region there are now 17 active cases, when there were only a handful of cases earlier this fall. The Northwest 4 region that includes the Battlefords had previously been running at zero cases for weeks, but as of Tuesday it was up to three active cases.

Northwest 3 which includes the surrounding area to the southwest and northeast has two active cases, Northwest 1 around St. Walburg-Turtleford-Edam-Meota area has one active case, and Northwest 2 around Lloydminster had 11 active cases including three new cases as of Tuesday.

At town council Monday in Battleford, Mayor Ames Leslie reminded residents that COVID-19 was in the area and to be vigilant.

“We are having (a) COVID-19 outbreak inside the Battlefords whether or not we want to believe it or not or be in denial of it”, said Leslie. “There is confirmed cases in our hospital as of today.”

“... So let’s be careful, let’s wash our hands, let’s wear our masks, let’s protect each other.... Halloween is coming up and we don’t [want to] ruin it for our kids because we are too stubborn to recognize the danger at hand.”

It should be noted that while Mayor Leslie mentioned cases in the local hospital, officially the province has reported no hospitalizations in the Northwest region as of Tuesday. It has been reported, however, that the local cases involve health care workers at Battlefords Union Hospital.

Dr. Shahab news conference

At his news conference in Regina on Tuesday, Dr. Saqib Shahab expressed concern about the rising numbers. He said cases in the past week were averaging three cases per 100,000.

“This is not the trend we want to see,” said Dr. Shahab.

He pointed to several causes including second and third generation cases from large gatherings, several outbreaks linked to nightclubs, as well as notable superspreader events — notably the gospel outreach event in Prince Albert.

Dr. Shahab noted there were 60 cases linked to the first generation from that event, but now counting the second generation it is up to 107, spread out in 17 different communities.

He noted this requires a significant amount of health resources to conduct testing, contact tracing and provide acute care to patients.

If they continue to see an increase in cases in a specific part of the province further measures may be required, said Dr. Shahab.

But he did say through consistent public health measures they can reduce case numbers. “I think we have to reemphasize some of those measures,” said Dr. Shahab.

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