Health officials monitor new COVID-19 outbreak in Saskatoon

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Just one day after the Saskatchewan government announced plans to reopen the province, the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed that it was following another COVID-19 outbreak in Saskatoon.

The outbreak, which took place at the Confederation Inn, resulted in four people from the La Loche community testing positive for COVID-19. Health officials say the cases in Saskatoon do not appear to be linked to a separate outbreak in La Loche.

“Contact research shows that some of these people, like those who have not traveled recently, have most likely been infected in Saskatoon,” said Dr. Johnmark Opondo of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“The first cases may have traveled, so this is where we need to do more research, and that may bring us back to La Loche, but it hasn’t been to the same epidemic so far. “

Opondo noted, however, that HIV positive people in Saskatoon who tested positive were counted in the La Loche numbers, because even if they spend much of their time in Saskatoon, their addresses are still rooted in the northern community.

The CBC has learned that one of the Saskatoon patients is currently in intensive care.

Opondo said contact tracing has shown that the four cases are linked to one person at the Confederation Inn and that the Saskatchewan Health Authority is confident it will be able to contain the epidemic as strict screening measures are underway. place in all health facilities in Saskatchewan.

“Many public health measures are applied,” he said. “We have had other hatches in Saskatoon and we have managed and closed them.”

Dr. Johnmark Opondo says the Saskatchewan Health Authority is following an outbreak in Saskatoon at the Confederation Inn. (Don Somers / CBC)

Brian Sawatzky, the hotel owner, said he was doing everything he could to keep the hotel safe. He said he had taken several precautionary measures to limit the risk of re-transmission to the hotel, which has served residents of Saskatoon for more than five decades.

He said he asked guests to leave, closed public areas of the hotel, and basically cleared the facilities for those who were isolated. Sawatzky said his business has been affected.

“My hotel is essentially empty,” he said.

Sawatzky said support from the Saskatchewan Health Authority has been good, but has had no communication with the provincial government about compensation for the income he has lost since he closed his hotel after the positive tests.

“I would love to have this conversation,” he said. “But COVID hurt everyone and I guess it’s my turn to hurt myself. “

However, Sawatzky said that the hotel’s beer store is still operational and open for business, as none of the guests entered the establishment.

Opondo said the hotel staff, including Sawatzky, went “beyond” in terms of environmental cleanup. He said health officials were not worried about the spread of the virus in the hotel’s beer store.

Officials say recently tested positive in Saskatoon spent the majority of their time in the city, but some experts still have concerns about patients traveling to town from La Loche as travel between the two communities is significant .

Dr. Anne Huang, a former medical officer of health for the provincial government, said the province should be extra careful every time it transports patients to or from La Loche following the epidemic in the Far North, where there is 28 cases. , Of which 27 are confirmed and 1 is presumptive.

According to Dr. Anne Huang, a former assistant medical officer of health for Saskatchewan, the province should be extra careful when transporting patients to and from La Loche. (CBC News)

“This trip to La Loche in Saskatoon is a long, long journey,” she said. “It means there would be stops on the way to coffee or bathroom breaks or food, all that. “

Huang said that this means that people who have the virus, but who may not have symptoms, can contaminate their environment during their trip. She said more care needs to be taken, as those receiving medical treatment are still allowed to travel outside of the north.

“What we see from the data is that there is a growing surge in the recovery and it seems that it has potentially exposed people along the route from La Loche to Saskatoon,” he said. she declared.

Aboriginal Services Canada, which also hosts clients receiving medical care at the hotel, said it knew the hotel was closed and had affected clients from the La Loche Dene Nation and Clear River supported by the Non-Insured Health Benefits program.

“Following this closure and as a precaution, ISC has relocated these customers to another hotel in Saskatoon,” said the release. “The ISC can confirm that the displaced are healthy, asymptomatic and have not been in close contact with the sick person at the Confederation Inn. “

For Sawatzky, he said he understood the Saskatchewan Health Authority would be moving patients from the hotel soon, when it plans to reopen to the public and its customers.

“When they leave, I will find out what the protocol is for cleaning the place properly and it will be my job to [Saturday] and maybe Sunday and we will have the place cleaned up properly. ”

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