'Nip it in the bud': Sask. expert warns against unravelling of COVID-19 success
SASKATOON -- As Saskatchewan's new COVID-19 infections increase, Nazeem Muhajarine says it’s time for the government to intervene with public health measures - but not widespread lockdowns.
“Nip it in the bud,” said Muhajarine, a University of Saskatchewan professor of epidemiology and community health.
“We need to take those steps today.”
On Tuesday the number of new cases was 24 – down from 141 on Feb. 28.
According to the Ministry of Health, new cases of COVID-19 and new hospitalization are made up of mostly unvaccinated people.
- In June, the province reported 2,032 cases of the disease.
- Of those, 1,641 people who tested positive were unvaccinated; 355 had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 32 cases were fully vaccinated.
- Of 102 hospitalizations in June, 66 were among unvaccinated people, 31 patients had a first dose and five were fully vaccinated.
- Of the 21 ICU admissions in June, 17 were unvaccinated.
With Saskatchewan’s case numbers over a seven-day average now increasing, Muhajarine said the province needs to consider public health restrictions and encourage more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We need a more cautious approach. We need to keep up messaging that COVID-19 is still with us, it hasn’t gone away, we’re not completely in the clear.
“We don’t want to go back, we don’t want to unravel what we have achieved in terms of vaccinations and suppressing COVID-19.”
Muhajarine said 25 per cent of the population hasn’t received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, something he’s concerned about with the opening of the CFL season on Friday and the province allowing 30,000 spectators to attend the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ home opener at Mosaic Stadium.
“This could easily be a super-spreader event,” he said.
According to an email from the Ministry of Health, as of Aug. 3, 75 per cent of people 12 years and older have received their first dose and 64 per cent of eligible people are fully vaccinated.
“The number of people being vaccinated is steadily increasing and we would encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated,” the statement said.
Muhajarine said another point of concern is around the province’s move to lift the mandatory self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19.
Last week Health Minister Paul Merriman told reporters that while the mandatory order is not in place, people who test positive should do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 to others.
As of Tuesday, the province said there are 449 active cases in Saskatchewan, 70 in Saskatoon and 44 in Regina.
58 people are in hospital and there have been 578 deaths related to COVID-19.