SASKATOON — Medical Health Officer Dr. Jasmine Hasseback said the Delta variant has been dominating the city and, as cases continue to rise, is advising the public to continue wearing masks even if the provincial government has not made any public health order.
Hasselback made the appeal during Tuesday’s virtual news conference that was also attended by Mayor Charlie Clark and City Emergency Management Director Pamela Goulden-McLeod.
She said that results from their wastewater monitoring showed Delta is the variant found in the new cases in the city.
“It continues to be an upward trend. It has shown that we are Delta. When they look at the wastewater data results, the variant of concern that are present is Delta.”
“We don't have any meaningful amount of any other kind of COVID, the other variants or even the original. We have heard not just predominantly in essence we have close to 100 per cent as you can feasibly get from a detection perspective of Delta variants within our community.”
She added that it was only a matter of time for the Delta variant to gain advantage over the other variants.
“But it happened very quickly here in Saskatoon, where we saw Delta take over. So, all Delta, but also an increase in the actual amount of COVID-19.”
Hasselback said the health care sector is feeling the brunt of the current trend’s impact.
“Our hospitals are feeling the strain. I've heard the word drowning from my colleagues in emergency departments here in Saskatoon. It's not ideal.”
“And so once again, it's time for us to ask because you've alluded to, what can we do as individuals. What can we do as organizations, what can we do as leaders, and this time there's a roadmap.”
She encouraged everyone to follow past health protocols.
“There are just a few little additional opportunities to look at. The things we've done in the past, they worked when we've implemented them, like making sure that everyone's masking within indoor spaces outside of their homes.”
Clark is also pushing having a proof of vaccination to keep everyone safe and to continue holding events, despite rising COVID cases. The city council on Monday approved safety measures to be observed again in order to address the spread of the virus and protect everyone in the community.
Clark acknowledged that the situation in Saskatoon is the current COVID-19 hotspot in the province with Saskatchewan having the second highest number of cases in the country. Saskatoon has 72 new cases out of the 274 that was recorded for the province.
The two-term mayor said the vaccine passport commenta he made were not radical.
“If you look at the decision made by the Roughriders Monday, by major music festival organizers like Live Nation, the [Western Hockey League], the Calgary Flames. It is the idea to keep our spaces, whether sports events or concerts, safely. We can either not have concerts, or we can have concerts and have them safe.”
“Right now, if you have unvaccinated people who you don’t know their status when it comes to COVID-19, attending an event and COVID is spreading rapidly through the community, it can create an unsafe environment for the staff, it can create an unsafe environment for the patrons there.”
He added that having health protocols once again be put in place is a way to keep everyone safe and able to enjoy these events.
“Where you can have screening to know whether somebody is vaccinated and the ability, in some cases, to have a proof of a negative test or something along those lines is the reality that we're in.”
“We want to keep the ability to have sports events. We want to keep the ability to have our economy going, to have nice have restaurants and nightclubs going. We have to balance the rights that people are making about, whether they want to get vaccinated or not. I respect that people have a decision and a choice of whether they want to get vaccinated, against the rights of people who want to go out to these events, and know that they're going into a safe environment.”
Clark said the comments he made on vaccine passports are in line with the other leaders of the country.
“I understand there has been concerns about what I've said. But what I've said is very consistent with exactly what all of these other leaders and organizers in our society are wrestling with, and even the Premier has said he is supporting his comments that he made [Monday].”