Saskatchewan has set a new record for the number of COVID-19 cases announced in a single day, with 439 new cases reported Saturday.
The sharp jump in cases also brought the province past the 6,000 mark for total cases reported since the start of the pandemic, with 6,237 to date.
The large increase was partially due a record-high number of tests processed Friday — 4,580 — and because weather-related and logistical delays meant there was a backlog in the reporting of some cases, provincial officials said in Saturday’s update.
With 170 new cases, the Saskatoon region saw the highest jump on Saturday, followed by Regina and the northwest zone, both of which reported 56 new cases. The north central zone has 43 new cases, and the remaining 114 cases are spread throughout the province.
The number of active cases in the province is now 2,537 — a 400 per cent jump from a month ago, when there were 509 active cases in Saskatchewan.
Hospitalizations also hit a record high Saturday, jumping to 93 from 85 on Friday.
Of those in hospital, 72 are receiving in-patient care while 21 are receiving intensive care.
The number of people who have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 remains at 33.
So far, the province has processed a total of 314,670 COVID-19 tests.
Of the province’s cases, 434 are involve travellers, 2,731 are from community contacts, 1,238 have no known exposures and 1,789 are under investigation.
‘Will consider further measures’: Moe
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe issued a statement concerning Saturday’s numbers, which he called “very concerning.”
“Our seven-day average for new cases is now 203, which is the highest it has ever been,” said Moe.
“While it’s too soon for the new measures implemented last week to have made an impact, we are continuing to evaluate the situation closely and will consider further measures. Our government is working closely with [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab and public health officials and will have more to say early next week,” the premier said.
“For now, let’s all do our part to keep ourselves and those around us safe.”
That includes reducing the number of contacts you have, cutting activity outside the home, wearing a mask if you do go out, practising physical distancing, and handwashing.
“We can keep ourselves and those around us safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by taking these steps,” said Moe.
Saskatchewan’s previous record for new active cases in a single day was recorded on Nov. 14, when 308 cases were reported.
Nurses union ‘horrified’
Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, says the increase in cases is more than unsettling for those battling COVID-19 on the front line.
“We are horrified, scared, disappointed and frustrated,” said Zambory, adding the union has been calling for tougher measures for weeks.
“We cannot wait until we hit a higher number. We are reaching critical mass here.”
Nurses and other medical professionals are already “exhausted,” Zambory said.
“They’re pushing it as hard as they can every day, because that’s what registered nurses do, that’s what the front-line caregivers do. We are there for our patients.”
Zambory said the union is calling on the province to take immediate steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, which could include stoppages where needed, noting there’s much at risk if changes aren’t made.
“The premier needs to take some decisive action and he needs to take it quick,” she said. “Our numbers are at a record high and they’re only going to continue to grow.”
Without action in the next three weeks, Saskatchewan could see itself in a situation worse than neighbouring Manitoba, which is now under strict COVID-19 restrictions after seeing the worst per capita rate of COVID-19 cases among Canadian provinces.
“What’s at stake is people’s lives,” she said. “We have to stop making this a competition between the economy and people’s lives. We can work together to make sure both stay intact.”