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Sask. Party and NDP leaders speak about rising COVID-19 numbers

Both Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili were talking on Thanksgiving Monday about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan.

Both Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili were talking on Thanksgiving Monday about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan.

Moe said in a press release, “We have seen our case numbers rise on a number of occasions over the past few months and every time, Saskatchewan people have been able to bring those numbers back down again through our collective efforts.

“So let’s be especially vigilant in the days ahead. Keep physically distancing, wear a mask when distancing may not be possible, wash your hands often, stay home if you are feeling unwell at all, avoid any unnecessary out of province travel and try to limit your number of close contacts as much as possible.”

Moe said the overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan people are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and others, but it only takes a few individuals stepping outside of the public guidelines to result in dozens of new cases. There have now been several new cases linked to a recent Gospel Outreach outbreak in Prince Albert, the release noted. 

“Everyone needs to follow the public health guidelines put in place by Dr. Shahab and his team. Keep public gatherings under 30 people and even less than that if you don’t have room to physically distance. Self-isolate when required to do so. If you don’t, the virus can spread quickly.

“Together, we have reduced the spread of COVID-19 before and I know we can do so again. So keep following all the good practices and guidelines. It’s how you will keep yourself and others safe.”

Meili spoke about the rising cases in an online press conference. He said, “We need to be closely watching the case counter. But we see that it's rising. One of the things we've never had from the Sask Party is a clear set of thresholds. When would they expect to introduce mandatory masks? When would we see changes in what businesses or other facilities are open? And even in terms of clear guidance for when people should be using masks already, that’s never come forward.

“I would like to see, and, in government, I would work with public health so that people know, not just what we're asking them to do right now, but also, what the thresholds would be for us to have different measures, so people can plan ahead and understand what rising cases mean.”

Meili continued, “The other thing that’s been a clear failure throughout is testing. We consistently test far below the rest of the country. We’re still at 70 per cent below the rest of the country for testing, right now, as we see more cases rising, and a second wave coming upon us. We have to increase accessibility to testing, shorten the turnaround time, so people get those answers right away, and make sure we’re doing the contact tracing as well as possible, so everyone who’s positive knows and is able to protect those around.”

Meili said he would like to see Moe be clearer in supporting the use of masks, and that Moe’s given contradictory advices with regards to mask usage.

On Oct. 12, Saskatchewan had 48 new cases and 12 recoveries attributed to COVID-19. On Oct. 13, there were 34 new cases and 11 recoveries.

In a press release from the Ministry of Health on Oct. 13, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab is amending the Public Health order on gathering sizes in private residences. As of Friday, Oct. 16, the maximum allowable gathering size for private gatherings in the home will be 15. The reason given was “the increasing rise in cases throughout Saskatchewan, linked to public and private social gatherings.”

Dr. Shahab is also strongly recommending masks be worn in all indoor public locations where physical distancing of two metres is not possible or predictable.