Sask. reinstates mandatory self-isolation, health care service reductions as COVID-19 cases rise

Alonzo Osche

REGINA —
The Government of Saskatchewan has reinstated a self-isolation order for COVID-19 positive residents and will be reducing some health care services to lessen the stress on the system.

“This fourth wave is concerning for all of us. In particular, I think it is most concerning for healthcare professionals who are experiencing firsthand the pressures, each and every day,” Moe said.

The province enacted a mandatory self-isolation order, which states that anyone that receives a positive COVID-19 test must self-isolate for 10 days.

Unvaccinated close contacts of people that test positive will also be required to isolate. Fully vaccinated close contacts will not be required to self-isolate, but will have to self-monitor and seek testing if symptoms develop.

Premier Scott Moe announced the new measures during a press conference on Friday morning.

Additionally, the government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are reducing non-critical or elective health care services to expand the surge capacity of the health system.

The province said the reduction is “necessary” to expand capacity for acute or urgent services. The reductions will be similar to previous slow downs.

“We know that these are only interim measures that will increase out healthcare capacity in the short term, so we must continue to focus our efforts on increasing the efficacy, the availability and the uptake of vaccines,” Moe said.

To assist with the service reductions, the health authority will be buying around 8,500 MRI and CT scans from private providers. It will also provide an additional 2,300 scans in smaller hospitals.

The SHA is also working to renew an agreement with health care provider unions that will allow for more flexibility and mobility for health care workers to move around to areas experiencing surges in capacity pressures.

Testing and contract tracing efforts are also being expanded across the province.

The province said it will be recruiting private contact tracing resources to create additional acpacity to manage the increase in case volumes.

Rapid testing services will be made available to Saskatchewan residents. The government said it has received an additional one million rapid antigen tests. A shipment of 500,000 rapid tests are expected to arrive next week.

The rapid tests will be available for a wide array of individuals and industries, including care homes, schools, health care workers, dentists, first responders, pharmacies and other businesses for workplace screening.

“Some of you may be wondering why I’m not imposing broad restrictions and mandates here today and I said before restrictions are a stopgap measure. They were always intended to be temporary, and they were to get us to a point where vaccines are largely available and accessible and they are today,” Moe said.

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