Saskatchewan eyes extending public health rules as 412 new COVID-19 cases reported

REGINA — Saskatchewan's average of recent COVID-19 infections hit a new high Monday as Premier Scott Moe and health officials mulled what to do about existing public health orders.

Health officials said the province's weekly average of new daily cases was sitting at 307 — the highest its been since at least last summer.

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The record was set after 412 more COVID-19 infections were reported in addition to 307 on Sunday.

Eight more residents died from the infection, brining the province's pandemic death toll to almost 200.

Nearly that many people were also in hospital — the highest to date — and there were 31 patients in intensive care.

Premier Scott Moe told the John Gormley Show on 650 CKOM and 980 CJME that it appears the province is experiencing a "Christmas bump" in terms of the novel coronavirus's spread.

The government must decide this week whether to extend public health restrictions brought in over the holidays, including a ban on household visits. There are also capacity limits on businesses and a ban on adult team sports.

The measures are due to expire on Friday.

Moe suggested that people should expect to see the status quo when it comes to public health rules for the rest of the month, because the test positivity rate remains too high.

"Given the recent increase in numbers, serious consideration is being given to renewing the measures," Moe's office said in a statement.

The premier also told the talk radio host that Saskatchewan's vaccination rollout got off to a slow start this month due to logistical issues. He said they have been sorted out enough to quicken the pace.

As of Monday, almost 8,950 doses of vaccine had been dispensed to critical care workers and some vulnerable residents such as those living in long-term care.

The province said at least 800 shots were given on Sunday, including to people in the province's north, which may not have been factored into the latest count.

"It’s not acceptable at this point to have anywhere under 1,000 vaccinations a day as we go through January," Moe said.

Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of active cases per capita in Canada.

Despite the numbers, high school and elementary students in Regina Public Schools returned to classed on Monday after a week of remote schooling after the holidays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021

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