Doctors also heard of surveillance measures since cases of Omicron variants were discovered in Canada. None were discovered in Saskatchewan.
Doctors heard at a weekly meeting of the Saskatchewan Health Department that a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic or wavelength is likely across Canada – including Saskatchewan.
The medical health officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo told attendees at the doctors’ virtual town hall on Thursday that Saskatchewan is still in a pandemic, not yet endemic or epidemic. The intensive care units are still busy, although leading and trailing indicators like new cases have “subsided,” he said.
Although the current public health order was extended to the end of January, Opondo said doctors may want to stay on course.
“I think we learned from experience that suddenly canceling all public health contracts all at once can really have a bounce back and even quickly lose the victories we have won,” said Opondo.
The top three unknowns at this point are declining immunity, maintaining public adherence to behavioral changes such as masking and restricting social mixing, and the Omicron variant.
The variant, which has been detected in other parts of Canada, including neighboring Alberta, was not detected in Saskatchewan until Friday.
Opondo said Saskatchewan is in a period of “enhanced surveillance”.
Patients must now answer a screening question about their most recent international trip (within the last 14 days). If they answer yes, they will be treated with droplet contact precautions, doctors learned.
Dr. EOC safety officer Mike Kelly said he hoped it was a temporary measure, but they can’t afford to take potentially more contagious patients to hospitals and cause outbreaks.
Doctors also heard that Saskatchewan now has the sixth highest incidence rate, behind Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia.
Things are calming down in western Canada, but at the same time things are starting to “pick up speed again” in the east, Opondo said.
While the number of tests performed has decreased, test positivity is now less than five percent, doctors also heard. Transmission continues to occur primarily within households and at social gatherings.
Doctors heard that the pressure in the intensive care units has eased somewhat, but they remain in the “challenged” category.
The province moved 27 ICU patients with COVID-19 out of the province when pressures peaked and 18 have returned to Saskatchewan. Four are staying in hospital outside the province, including one person who is in intensive care and three who are not in intensive care (as of Nov. 30).
Five people transferred from the province died.
Increase likely if COVID-19 rules are lifted before spring, Sask. Doctors say
“The intensive care units will be overwhelmed,” as Regina rises across the province, doctors said
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