A jump in positive COVID-19 cases throughout Saskatchewan is prompting Saskatchewan health officials to make an additional push to encourage mask use as an additional tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Over the past two days the province has recorded 110 positive COVID-19 cases, with 66 cases announced on Monday and an additional 44 on Tuesday.
Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab said during a COVID-19 update on Tuesday, October 20 that in response to the rising numbers the additional precaution of a mask is warranted.
“I think that many of us have noticed that in some situations mask use is very high. In some situations it is quite low. And we all need to work with each other – with our employers, employees, customers – to encourage high levels of mask use.”
“If we continue to see sporadic cases pop up without transmission chains being established, further measures may have to be considered. But even before that…we need to re look at how do we operate as employers, employees as customers when visiting businesses.”
“Physical distancing, mask use as an additional layer that we are starting to use quite a bit. I think if we’re more consistent with that all the time when we’re at an indoor public place and we can’t reliably keep that two metre distance, these measures could have a dramatic impact over the next two weeks.”
Since October 12, Saskatchewan has posted a jump of 340 cases, the largest single cluster of positive cases during the entire pandemic.
“This is not the trend we want to see in the province, and we can point to several causes. We continue to see cases that are second and third generation from large gatherings. We have had notable super spreader events. Events that have contributed to transmission include a PA event, weddings and parties in both the north and south of Saskatchewan. This is a time when we will also see symptomatic people following any transmission events on Thanksgiving.”
“This just shows how we really have to be careful in terms of those closed gathering at home, stick to a small consistent group of people.”
He cautioned that primary transmission can quickly spread to dozens of secondary cases. The Prince Albert super spreader event produced 60 initial cases, but now there are a total of 107 cases in 17 communities linked to that single weekend event.
“You can see how one single transmission event can quickly snowball into a very large impact throughout the province.”
Dr. Shahab noted they continue to monitor where in the province larger outbreak numbers are occurring, and working diligently to manage an outbreaks through testing, contact tracing and using the physical distancing and frequent hand washing public health recommendations which have been in place for the last number of months.
“If we continue to see an increase in cases in a specific part of the province, further measures may be required.”
“So we have to be aware that if we continue to see a surge in specific parts of the province, further action may be required. But we have shown again and again that through our consistent public health measures we can actually reduce case measures.”