SASKATOON -- The latest COVID-19 outbreak is happening in a Hutterite colony in the Rural Municipality of Star City east of Melfort.

That’s according to the provincial government, which says that of the 50 new cases of the disease announced on Wednesday, 44 originated from the colony

“We have said we will have outbreaks across this province and we have one that’s occurring right now,” Premier Scott Moe said.

This latest jump in cases brings the provincial total to 322 active cases, of which 244 are connected to Hutterite colonies, and those numbers are concerning the premier.

“That’s 76 per cent of Saskatchewan’s cases.”

Earlier this week Moe predicted more cases coming from Hutterite colonies given that more people were going to be tested.

In response to the ongoing case numbers coming from Hutterite colonies, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said it’s reaching out to the 80 Hutterite colonies across the province and working to expand testing in those areas and provide information on how to stop the spread of the disease.

But while some colonies have been listening, Moe said others have not been so receptive to changing how they live in order to stop the spread of the virus.

“Some are telling us they are not willing to change their communal practices such as eating and worshipping together in groups larger than what’s allowable under the public health order,” he said. “Many are making adjustments and I thank them.”

Moe said reporting the name of communities is not in any way about stigmatizing. The province has reported where other outbreaks have occurred, including La Loche, and medical centres in Prince Albert and Lloydminster. The province in its daily COVID-19 update has named businesses that had cases and how outbreaks have been connected to specific gatherings.

“We felt public safety and the greater need for public health and public safety was required. What we’re doing here today is not about stigmatizing anyone in our society, it’s about ensuring everyone is aware where these outbreaks are occurring.”