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Sask. Premier repeats no gathering restrictions coming, support nurses on the way

Support nurses are incoming from Ontario to prop up overwhelmed ICUs, say Sask. officials, but no gathering restrictions to slow transmission are on the horizon.
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Premier Scott Moe speaks to reporters in Saskatoon on Oct. 25, 2021.

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is maintaining course with the message that the province won’t be implementing gathering restrictions because it would be “unfair” to those who have gotten vaccinated.

Moe fielded questions from the media on Monday, following an appearance at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce event where he delivered a state of the province address.

He confirmed that although chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab has openly shared his belief that household gathering limits are needed, the province is not planning to take that step yet.

“We don’t think it’s fair and we don’t think it’s right to impose those sweeping closures, those sweeping restrictions, on all of the people when the vast majority of people in this province have went out and done the right thing and they have received their vaccine,” said Moe.

Moe said once again that gathering restrictions are a “stop-gap” tactic, which other provincial officials have been also echoing for weeks. 

He said that another lockdown would put another strain on economic resources, and that current public health measures in place are sufficing to slow transmission in the province for now.

“As long as our cases are continuing to drop, and the measures we have in place are seeming to be quite effective and they are, I don’t think it’s time to be looking at additional health measures,” said Moe.

Federal resources have been deployed this week to help the province with COVID-19, in response to a request made by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre last week.

Six critical care nurses will be arriving from Ontario on Wednesday, to supplement ICU needs in Regina.

In a regular update from the PEOC, also on Monday, Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said that the incoming nurses will serve as back-stop support for overwhelmed ICU care staff.

“They certainly will help relieve some of the stress on current staff,” said Livingstone. “

The allocation of these nurses is not expected to open any more new ICU beds in the province, said Livingstone, and the health authority is not considering resuming any stopped health services yet.

Another 70 Saskatchewan nurses are also finishing necessary critical care training to be redeployed internally, said officials.

The training is a shortened version of typical critical care courses, and these nurses are expected on the ground within weeks to begin aiding overworked ICUs.

“Although they're not formally trained in ICU, they are used as extenders to support nursing staff and other ICU's across the province,” said Livingstone.

Marlo Pritchard, operations head at the PEOC, said that initial conversations with the federal government did include a request for other specialized resources, but the incoming allotment of nurses was all that could be provided at this time.

He also noted that an additional 20 non-critical-care nurses from the Canadian Red Cross are also on standby, arrival details unconfirmed as of yet.

Another seven critically ill COVID-19 patients are scheduled to be transferred to Ontario for out-of-province care by Wednesday this week, confirmed Pritchard.

The province has also secured 1,200 doses of monoclonal antibody treatments, meant to be delivered to the clinically vulnerable, immunosuppressed and unvaccinated in the province to help prevent serious illness from COVID-19 that would require hospitalization.

Rollout of the treatment began today, with 427 doses of antibodies already delivered and split between clinics in Saskatoon and Regina.