‘Fall and winter of misery’: Saskatchewan’s top doctor says there may not be big Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings

As Saskatchewan regularly breaks COVID-19 records, the province’s top doctor warned of a bleak end to the year as the health minister urged residents to “get vaccinated as soon as possible », Reiterating that vaccines are the way out of the pandemic.

At a press conference in the afternoon on Wednesday, Paul Merriman said new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are “largely” among those who have yet to receive their vaccines. .

Merriman last spoke to the media on August 25, when he said that while there were signs the province was entering a fourth wave of the pandemic, the provincial government was not ready to impose vaccinations.

Since then, 90 people with COVID-19 have died in Saskatchewan, the number of people hospitalized has increased by 203, and intensive care admissions have increased by 45.

Saskatchewan recorded one of its worst pandemic days on Tuesday, breaking several records related to COVID-19.

COVID-related hospitalizations and intensive care admissions in the province have nearly tripled in the past month, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“The choice not to get vaccinated doesn’t just affect you,” Merriman said, adding that “life is going to get more difficult” for those not yet vaccinated, as the province’s proof of vaccination policy comes into play. force Friday.

“Autumn and winter of misery”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Saqib Shahab said Saskatchewan is heading into “a fall and a winter of misery.” At the current rate, he said, there may not be any large holiday gatherings this year.

“Not only will we not have Thanksgiving at this rate, but we probably won’t have Christmas and New Years at this rate,” Shahab said.

“If things don’t change, more public health orders may be needed,” he added, noting that it will be up to the government to decide what policies to put in place.

While Saskatchewan schools have reported dozens of COVID-19 cases since the start of the semester, Shahab said schools “are not the source of transmission.”

Unvaccinated households lead to transmissions that end up in schools, he said.

One-third of cases in Saskatchewan involve school-aged children.

Wednesday’s COVID-19 update came shortly after the Canadian Medical Association called for closures in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has offered to help Saskatchewan fight its COVID-19 outbreak.

Premier Scott Moe said his government did not ask the federal government to send military or healthcare workers to support the battle against COVID-19 in hospitals, but discussed other areas of Potential assistance, including increased access to rapid self-tests and the performance of such free tests.

Saskatchewan’s opposition NDP is calling on the province to release its pandemic model, gain federal support and change current isolation orders for children in schools.

“I take absolutely responsibility for everything”

In an update on COVID-19 on Wednesday, Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman urged residents to get vaccinated “as soon as possible.” (Matt Duguid / CBC)

When asked by a reporter on Wednesday if he wanted to apologize for the government’s handling of the pandemic amid this latest wave of cases, Merriman said he was taking “responsibility for everything.” But he also said he did not regret not having policies in place to increase vaccination earlier.

“I take everything as Minister of Health as my responsibility. And ultimately it lands on my desk,” Merriman said.

“I absolutely take responsibility for everything. The good, the bad and everything in between is happening within the health care system. ”

The Minister was also asked why more restrictions had not yet been implemented.

“It’s an extremely difficult situation. We’ve never seen this before,” Merriman said. “Public health measures are extremely important, but it will not get us to the end of the pandemic – vaccines will. “

Merriman also said he will consider a request from the Saskatoon City Council to institute a public health order limiting the size of gatherings in that city when it is presented.

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