REGINA — The provincial government’s new measures against COVID-19 are not enough to deal with the growing number of cases against the disease, said the leader of the New Democrats.
On Sept. 10, the province announced that it is bringing back isolation orders for those found to be infected with COVID-19, providing booster dose of vaccine to the general public, boosting testing and contact tracing capacities, and enacting targeted slowdowns of non-critical health services to prepare for more COVID-19 patients.
“This doesn't even qualify for too little too late because [Premier Scott Moe's] doing absolutely nothing at all. He has chosen to give up on Saskatchewan people. He has chosen to allow people to die,” Ryan Meili said in a media conference held after the government’s announcement.
"The deaths in the coming weeks are on Scott Moe's hands, because of the decisions he has chosen to make.”
According to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are 3,573 active cases of COVID-19 in the province as of Sept. 10, with the increase in cases starting on July 20, 2021, which had 242 cases. The highest number of active cases seen was on Dec. 7, 2020, with 4,707 active cases.
There are 190 cases in the hospital as of Sept. 10, with an increase starting on July 29, 2021, which had 43 cases. The peak was on Feb. 2, 2021, with 238 cases.
“Last night I got a phone call. And unfortunately, this is becoming a bit of a regular conversation with folks like the doctor I talked to last night,” said Meili, who reactivated his medical license in response to the pandemic.
“[There’s a] sense of hopelessness that I'm hearing from physicians, nurses, everybody working in healthcare, as they're seeing a government that is choosing not to come to their defence, that is choosing not to help keep people healthy. Instead the premier of this province is choosing to allow Saskatchewan people to die when he has other options.”
The NDP leader said the province should be listening to a letter issued by Dr. Cory Neudorf, the interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and other medical health officers in the province.
The letter, dated Aug. 26, said vaccination rates aren’t high enough to just live with COVID. Among the action the medical health officers recommended were enacting a vaccine passport system for bars, restaurants, nightclubs and other similar social events; requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers, those K-12 students that can get one, and school staff; requiring masks indoors; improving ventilation in schools; and requiring mandatory isolation for those who test positive for COVID.
“These are straightforward, simple, low cost things that we can do today that can bring this under control,” Meili said. “Scott Moe chose to ignore all of that advice.”
Meili said he’s expecting doctors, nurses and regular citizens to step up as things get worse.
“I'm seeing more people wearing their masks, more people will go get vaccinated. I know Saskatchewan people are committed, but they deserve leadership that is willing to step up and protect them,” he said. “Scott Moe, that's not him.”