Northern Sask. residents asked to restrict non-essential travel
Northern residents are being advised to avoid all non-essential travel out of the Northern Saskatchewan Administrative District until the end of February to slow the spread of the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really a concern for us in relation to how this could potentially distort our society and also overwhelm our health system’s capacity,” said Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) Medical Health Officer Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka.
Medical health officers for the Athabasca Health Authority and NITHA say they were prompted by an increase in COVID-19 case numbers.
As of Jan. 20, there are 223 active COVID-19 infections in NITHA communities. Ndubuka says there are an average of 40 new cases per day.
Travel between communities within the district should also be for essential services only.
“Now that Omicron is the dominant strain in the province, we’re seeing a fairly rapid increase in cases,” said Ndubuka.
He says the Omicron variant is highly contagious and easily transmissible. Many of the positive cases are linked to travel outside northern communities to areas in the south, and out-of-province.
He estimates there are actually double the reported cases, due to people who have tested positive with rapid test kits and are self-isolating.
“Plus, the PCR positive results will really double if not more. So we have not seen the peak yet.”
Ndubuka says the fifth wave is “distressing” to the healthcare system because of the high caseload and absenteeism at workplaces.
He encourages people to get three doses of the vaccine, avoid gathering, stay home if they feel ill and test themselves with rapid test kits three times a week.
Among those positive cases in NITHA, 46 per cent are not vaccinated, 29 percent are fully vaccinated, 17 are ineligible for vaccination and eight percent are partially vaccinated.
He says there have been fewer hospital admissions with Omicron and no new patients have been admitted to hospital in the last eight weeks.
So far, 48 people in the NITHA health area have died following COVID-19 infection.
This article has been updated with the correct number of new daily cases.
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