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Saskatchewan records deadliest day of pandemic with four deaths

A specimen from a test for COVID-19 is collected from the swab in a container, which is then sent to the laboratory for processing. 
Photos of COVID-19 testing from Regina, Sask. Saskatchewan Health Authority supplied photo. Photo input on June 12, 2020
A specimen from a test for COVID-19 is collected from the swab in a container, which is then sent to the laboratory for processing. Photos of COVID-19 testing from Regina, Sask. Saskatchewan Health Authority supplied photo. Photo input on June 12, 2020

Saskatchewan has set an unenviable new high for deaths reported in a single day.

With the four new deaths announced on Monday, the toll from COVID-19 rose to 37 — with 12 of those in November, now by far the deadliest month. Two deaths in a day have been announced four times since March, and no deaths were recorded during the entire month of September.

The four people who died resided in four different zones: Someone in his or her 70s in the Saskatoon zone, a resident over 80 from the north west zone and two people over 60 from the far north east zone and the north central zone.

The province also recorded 235 new cases; active cases rose to a new high of 2,864. The Saskatoon zone leads in active cases with 859, followed by Regina with 555. Regina led the province with 66 new cases Monday, followed by Saskatoon with 54.

Hospitalizations also cracked the 100 mark for the first time, rising to 106, including 19 people receiving intensive care.

The seven-day average of new cases rose to 219, bolstered by the all-time high in new daily cases on Saturday of 439. The 219 new cases amounts to about 18 per 100,000 population.

Saturday’s high number was reached as a result of 4,580 tests. Reported tests dropped to 2,861 on Monday.

Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab did not hold a news conference, despite adding 910 new cases in three days, the largest surge of the pandemic.

Moe appeared on the Roy Green Show on Saturday to reinforce his hesitancy to close businesses and other facilities to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“It would be disastrous for our small business community in Saskatchewan,” Moe said on the radio show. “And that’s why we are looking at every other lever that we have to control the spread of this virus.”

Moe and Shahab announced new measures last week, including expanding mandatory masks in indoor public spaces to the entire province and limiting the number of people allowed to gather in homes to five.

More restrictions on business and other sectors are expected to be announced sometime this week. On Twitter, Moe called the case numbers on Saturday “very concerning.”

Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), which represents 10,000 nurses in the province, questioned the lack of communication from the province over the weekend surge.

“When that number of 400 came out, people were very scared, upset, tired,” Zambory said in an interview. “They feel tired and they feel disappointed in the reaction or lack thereof from Premier Moe and Dr. Shahab.”

Also on Monday, the NDP Opposition called for urgent action to address the COVID-19 outbreak in the northern community of Fond Du Lac, a community of fewer than 1,000 people near the northern border of Saskatchewan.

In an emailed statement, Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger called on the provincial government to ensure people have enough to eat and to ship personal protective equipment to the community.

Active cases in the far north central zone, which includes Fond Du Lac, reached 67 on Monday in a population of just 2,662, giving it the highest per capita rate of cases in the province.

NDP social services critic Meara Conway also called on the government to reinstate a ban on evictions now that winter has arrived.

Conway also urged the government to restore support to clients who were cut off from income assistance after receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

She called on the province to cease its practice of clawing back income assistance payments to those who received CERB or CESB.

COVID-19 DEATHS

Here are the number of deaths, by month, of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan:

March: Two

April: Four

May: Five

June: Two

July: Five

August: Six

September: None

October: One

November: 12

— With files from Zak Vescera

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twitter.com/thinktankSK

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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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