Sask. Intensive care units under immense pressure, chief medical officer may consider other measures if cases increase

Saskatchewan Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Saqib Shahab said if the number of COVID-19 cases increases and the pressure on hospitals and intensive care units remains high, he will recommend new health measures .

Even if the numbers are currently leveling off, there could be an increase in the number of cases for Thanksgiving, Shahab said in a technical briefing with government and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) officials on Friday.

“If our numbers stay as high as they are, it might not be sustainable for the healthcare system,” he said, adding that people should reduce their bubbles.

Shahab said he would monitor the number of cases and recommend health measures if they spike again.

“Right now there is a certain plateau, but there is still tremendous pressure on the acute care system and those are not going to drop quickly.”

The government said there are 312 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, 335 people are hospitalized and 78 are in intensive care.

Hospitalizations and new cases are down slightly from Thursday.

Shahab said testing positivity remains high at 12% across the province and there are 38 cases of COVID per 100,000.

Plans are underway to transfer critically ill patients out of Saskatchewan.

When asked Thursday why the Government of Saskatchewan is not asking for health workers in Ottawa, Health Minister Paul Merriman replied “because the Saskatchewan Health Authority tells me they have the resources to do it. place to meet our needs ”.

SHA emergency operations chief Derek Miller said on Friday the province was planning to send patients to Manitoba or Ontario for intensive care if their needs could not be met in Saskatchewan. .

“We want to try to provide [care] as close to home as possible, ”Miller said.

He said the province’s intensive care units are under “immense pressure”.

Miller said the SHA has not “set a threshold” for the number of intensive care patients who will initiate a request to transport some to other provinces.

“It’s important to have things in place if we’re going to go there,” Miller said.

Miller said the SHA had 175 dedicated ICU staff with 600 staff having been redeployed from other areas who were “slowed down” to join the COVID effort.

Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said the province would “use all possible resources before moving patients.”

Pritchard said Saskatchewan has contacted other provinces for nurses with critical care expertise.

“To date, about half have indicated they are unable to deploy resources to Saskatchewan, but we will continue to monitor this over the weekend and into next week.”

WATCH | Dr Hassan Masri is extremely concerned:

“It’s a very serious situation,” says Sask. intensive care doctor

Dr. Hassan Masri, an intensive care physician in Saskatoon, called the situation in intensive care units in Saskatchewan “extremely worrying”. 7:31

Upcoming vaccination reminders for people 65 and over

Shahab said there is groundbreaking case evidence in people 65 and over if they are six months after their second dose, especially if they are immunocompromised.

He said the province plans to offer booster doses to people over 65 or those facing significant health risks in “the coming days and weeks,” pending consultations with vaccine suppliers. .

As of Thursday, nearly 75 percent of people hospitalized are not fully vaccinated, according to the province.

“We see virtually no hospitalization in people under 65 who are fully vaccinated,” Shahab said.

The groundbreaking cases that result in hospitalization involve fully vaccinated people over the age of 80, Shahab said, adding that those who are eligible for a booster dose should get it.

Shahab said the use of the mask has had an impact in reducing the number of cases, as has the increase in vaccinations.

Shahab said he was disappointed that Saskatchewan’s vaccination rates are lower than all provinces except Alberta. He said 85% of those 12 and over have received a first dose and 74% are fully immunized.

“Many provinces in Canada are now in the 90s. I don’t want to accept that we in Saskatchewan should be behind anyone. There is no excuse not to get the vaccine. “

On Thursday, Merriman suggested that Saskatchewan’s vaccination rates, which rank among the lowest among provinces along with Alberta, were not as low as reported because people with health cards from Saskatchewan were getting vaccinated outside the province.

“We have a whole bunch of health cards from people who have moved out of the province, [or] who … have been vaccinated in other provinces, but are not counted here in Saskatchewan. So we were in the process of cleaning it up, ”he said.

In order to increase the vaccination rate by one percentage point, the province would need 10,000 unreported vaccinations from elsewhere.

Shahab said: “I wouldn’t guess the percentage. I don’t think it would make a major difference to our use of the vaccine.”

98% of employees vaccinated: SHA

The deadline for SHA employees to declare whether they wish to provide a regular negative test or request a vaccine exemption based on medical or religious grounds is Saturday.

Miller said 98% said they were fully vaccinated, 1% said they wanted to be tested regularly, and 1% said they would request an exemption.

“If an employee is non-compliant, there are normal administrative and disciplinary processes until termination,” Miller said.

Millions of rapid tests bound for Saskatchewan.

The province is asking the federal government for faster testing.

Pritchard said it requested 8 million tests and Ottawa has pledged to send half in November and half in December.

There is no excuse not to get the vaccine.– Dr Saqib Shahab

He said on Friday that 2.6 million rapid tests would start sending out, most of them destined for schools. Details from Pritchard were to come on how the public could access the tests.

He added that the province allows private testing companies to apply to be suppliers of rapid antigen testing.

Pritchard also announced a new public health measure that took effect Monday at midnight, at which time fast food restaurants will require proof of vaccination for patrons 12 and older who dine there.

In a press release Friday morning, the province listed liquor makers, such as breweries and distilleries, that sell alcohol. Most of the sales related to restaurants and taverns will also be impacted.

9:19Political panel – October 15

We had our first glimpse of winter this week and people are sleeping outside in tents in the capital. What is the Department of Social Services doing about this? Leader Post columnist Murray Mandryk and CBC Saskatchewan provincial affairs reporter Adam Hunter join host Stefani Langenegger for a chat. 9:19