Omicron: Sask. doctors told to brace for 'toughest' COVID-19 wave yet
The Saskatchewan Health Authority expects an overwhelming acute care surge due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
"Current state is an emergency. Public health currently overwhelmed and acute care will be soon," according to a slide presentation by Medical Health Officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo at a virtual physician's town hall event on Thursday.
The presentation said the disease is "circulating widely and everyone is at risk."
Saskatchewan's daily case counts are high due to the highly transmissible Omicron strain; both provincial and Public Health Agency of Canada modelling suggest sheer volumes will push hospitalization to extremely high levels, the presentation said.
Saskatchewan has the second-highest case rate among the provinces, though with fewer people receiving PCR tests and with those who are testing more likely to be infected, it's difficult to interpret case rates, he said.
Surveillance efforts are challenged and most likely the picture is worse than what the figures show, the presentation said.
"Public health teams are currently drowning; acute care hospitalizations are rising. Perfect storm of population mixing, low immunization coverage, high background transmission rates, human resource exhaustion."
Long-term care cases are around seven times higher this week compared to last week and outbreaks in long-term and personal care homes are at their highest levels to date, with high staff unplanned absence.
"All health sector actors are encouraged to adopt a proactive response stance as we plan for an unprecedented case surge, accompanied with staffing challenges," the presentation said, predicting the "toughest wave in Saskatchewan yet."
Opondo's presentation said people shouldn't mix and socialize broadly, even if they can. Most cases will be undiagnosed and everyone is at risk for infection, he said.
He also noted that Omicron re-infects; being infected in 2021 doesn’t protect someone in 2022. Omicron is a disease that requires three doses of vaccine - but so far only 47 per cent of Saskatchewan adults have had their booster, according to the presentation.
COVID-19 incidence rates in the vaccinated and unvaccinated are similar, but COVID-19 hospitalization rates are higher in the unvaccinated compared to the vaccinated, the presentation said.
In a later presentation, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Froh said patient care is currently "challenged" with minimal service disruption.
However, under a slide titled "Omicron Rising," he said non-ICU cases will exceed all prior peaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"ICU cases rapidly rising. Current slope of exponential increase in hospital census is not sustainable," the slide said.
"Under current restrictions, Omicron will dangerously strain our acute care system. Left further unchecked Omicron will overwhelm it."
It’s something Dr. Dennis Kendel, a physician and public health consultant, said isn't being reflected in the province’s latest restrictions.
“It just struck me that it’s so discordant with the message that we heard from the Minister of Health the previous day which more or less leads people to believe we’re sort of exiting from this whole process, it’s on the downslope and that is not true.”
Effective Friday, the province loosened isolation rules so that all cases must only isolate for five days regardless of vaccination status and close contacts no longer have to isolate.
In addition, parents and caregivers are no longer required to report COVID-19 cases in kids to schools.
"This revision to the public health order supports a self-management approach to COVID-19," the province said in the update.
"Changes that support a self-management approach need to balance any risk of community transmission with continuity for families, individuals and businesses. By reducing the burden of self-isolation for cases and contacts, it is expected to increase adherence to public health orders."
Kendel said the provincial government needs to be more proactive and not just rely on hospitalization numbers as an indicator for where cases are going.
“When you have the experts telling you that looking ahead is scary because we may not have enough capacity, government should be listening to that and not diminishing our public health measures like shortening isolation periods.”
Saskatoon Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
Fifty-eight-year-old Vivian Ketchum is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, 'Please send the police now,' as officers waited more than an hour to breach the classroom after following the gunman into the building, authorities said Friday.
Fragments of a comet broken nearly 30 years ago could potentially light up the night sky Monday as experts predict an 'all or nothing' spectacle.
A new report says Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto rank among the top 20 cities around the world when it comes to work-life balance.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the federal government is working with groups on the ground to resolve air travel 'bottlenecks' in time for a busy summer.
Cyber security attacks happen every day, and as Regina Public Schools division discovered this week, no one is safe.
'Very upset': Senior housing residents plead for Sask. Housing Corporation to rebuild after winter fire
Former residents of a Carievale seniors housing complex want the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) to reconsider its decision to demolish the home.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
Pembina Trails School Division is confirming to CTV News that a group of students found a body during community cleanup at Ècole South Pointe School.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
'It's one way to be creative': Winnipeg student wants to be a bartender when older; school doesn't like comment in yearbook
Bartender. That is what one Grade 4 student said for the yearbook when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, an answer the school is asking him to change.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing a slew of charges following a suspected hate-motivated incident at a Jewish school in North York.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Here's what we know about the storm cleanup in Ottawa today
Hydro Ottawa is not committing to a new deadline to restore power to thousands of customers, one week after a devastating storm with wind gusts of 190 km/h hit Ottawa.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | What you need to know about Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend
It's the first in-person Ottawa Race Weekend in Ottawa since 2019, after the 2020 and 2021 events were shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Friday evening, 26,000 Hydro Ottawa customers remain without power in all neighbourhoods of the city.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
Researchers working in partnership with UBC believe an eco-friendly material could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
Canada's highest court has ruled that Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six people at the Quebec City mosque in 2017, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Quebec says it is ready to vaccinate people who have come into close contact with monkeypox as soon as Friday.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
The emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital unexpectedly shut down on Friday evening due to a staffing shortage.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.
A Cape Breton father is warning the public of the dangers in the area he lives after his teenager son fell nearly 40 feet over a cliff in Glace Bay.
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
The lawyer who represented a man who murdered three RCMP officers nearly eight years ago in Moncton, N.B., said a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada Friday may potentially change his sentence.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
Staff at the new Sault Metis Centre are getting set for the grand opening Saturday.
Saturday’s powerful storm left a lasting impact across Ontario as city crews continue to deal with the damage. Western University’s Northern Tornado Project reported that two EF-1 tornadoes touched down in London — and on Friday, Environment Canada confirmed it.
A London man is facing impaired-related charges after a vehicle he was driving collided with a gravel truck on Wednesday morning, according to police.
The London Police Service is requesting the public’s help with locating a person of interest after a gun was fired on Richmond Row in the early morning hours of Friday.