'Buckle up': Infectious disease doc warns Saskatoon COVID-19 variant case count could be worse than Regina's
SASKATOON -- Infectious diseases physician Alex Wong says it’s “predictable” that Saskatoon will see a rise of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
“You can pretty much almost guarantee that what has happened here in Regina will surely happen in Saskatoon, it’s only a matter of time,” Wong told CTV News.
On Monday the province announced a vaccine push into Saskatoon to help preserve the city’s health care system.
Hospitals in Regina have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 variants of concerns and the number of patients who need inpatient care in Saskatoon is rising.
Wong predicts Saskatoon will be hit worse due to data that shows who, young people in particular, follows public health guidelines.
“Like in Regina, it’s going to be younger, racialized persons who are front facing essential workers and so forth… I bet a lot on it. So to pretend it’s not going to happen, buckle up.”
New numbers from University of Saskatchewan researchers studying the city’s wastewater suggest a climb in cases could be coming.
Between April 16-20, the numbers show levels of COVID-19 increased by more than 300 per cent from the week before.
Also, for the first time since variant cases began soaring in Regina, on Tuesday the Saskatoon area had the highest number of new daily cases.
According to the province's daily COVID-19 update on Tuesday, the Saskatoon area had 70 new reported cases, more than double the number in Regina: 30.
Wong adds the vaccine is just one component in terms of the overall response to keeping cases low.
Something that Saskatoon ICU physician Dr. Hassan Masri agrees with.
He welcomes the idea of vaccinating more people, saying it’s a good move, but warns it takes proper public health measures to keep cases under control.
Adding, that it can take two weeks before people develop “good protection” from COVID-19.
“If we are under the illusion that the vaccines are going to protect us right away, then unfortunately we’ll find out that we’re wrong and in a few weeks we’ll find an increased influx in ICU patients,” Masri told CTV News.
He said the city’s ICU has been “quite busy” for months and while it is under control, it’s stretched.
Masri emphasizes the rise in case numbers is not a Regina problem, but a provincial problem.
“If the situation is out of control like it is in Regina, like it is in some parts of Ontario, then not only will people with COVID suffer, but all of us as citizens of this city will suffer.”
As of Tuesdayy's update, there were 53 people receiving inpatient care in Saskatoon due to COVID-19, 57 in Regina. Twenty-six people were in intensive care in Regina and 10 in Saskatoon.