SASKATOON -- During a news conference Monday in Regina, Saskatchewan's health minister provided a clearer timeline of what officials knew about an outbreak at Lloydminster Hospital — and when they knew it.

“Could we have done better in this case? Yeah, I think absolutely we could have,” said Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter.

On April 29, the province announced a  cluster of 13 COVID-19 cases at Lloydminster Hospital , including five health care workers and eight patients.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) was informed of the outbreak by Lloydminster health officials on Monday of last week but didn’t tell the public until Wednesday.

On Friday, SHA CEO Scott Livingstone acknowledged concerns over the delay in publicly announcing the outbreak.

Reiter said there is an entire chain of command that this information needs to go through.

“The first day of that, the Monday, I think Scott Livingstone dealt with that and I think he feels that certainly, that information should have went to the ministry quicker,” he said.

“The information I was told was sent by email to the Ministry of Health on Monday night and then ministry officials would pull it down to the appropriate people in Dr. Shahab’s office for example. They would do their review, there would have been consultation back and forth with the local officials in Lloyd. At some point, whenever they deemed it appropriate, that would’ve risen through the ranks."

Reiter said he didn’t find out about the outbreak until late Tuesday night.

“So, on Wednesday morning I notified executive council and the Premier.”

Moving forward, Reiter said this type of information will be shared in a much more timely manner.

He pointed to the  outbreak at Prince Albert hospital  as an example. 

“When we were made aware of that, within hours the public was informed,” Reiter said.

He said the key will be to communicate more quickly, adding that he’s already talked to his deputy about ensuring that even in developing situations, information like this rises up the chain quicker so that the information is made available to the public.

“We need to make sure that when these things are evaluated, those communications between the different levels and the ministry, that there isn’t unnecessary delays.”