Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab announced on Wednesday the province has recorded its seventh death related to COVID-19, and an additional 21 cases have been confirmed.
The seventh death was a Saskatchewan resident in their 60s from the north region of the province, Shahab provided no additional information on the case.
“We still feel it is important as a government and a health system, we have to do our utmost to protect the privacy and confidentiality of people and families who are going through a very difficult time,” said Shahab during a press conference.
Shahab added this is a constant reminder that COVID-19 will be around in the province for a long time.
“While it can impact everyone, it can impact those who are older who have underlying risk factors more severely,” he said.
Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said he is not surprised by an increase in cases. He said as they expand testing criteria and the work being done on the ground in terms of risk assessment means this will be the new norm.
“I think people need to realize that this will be our norm for months,” said Livingstone.
“We will see days of one, we will see days of two, but we are going to see case numbers like this come up and down,” he added.
Livingstone added he thinks the good news is the case jump is in an area of the province where they are actively seeking and expanding testing and contract tracing.
The SHA also announced they will be expanding testing starting May 25 in an effort to have more tests available for all residents in Saskatchewan.
Currently, the testing guidelines require certain symptoms and scenarios to take place for someone to be tested for COVID-19. Starting May 25, the SHA will expand guidelines to ramp up testing numbers in the province.
New guidelines include testing being available to anyone working outside the home, for the homeless or those living in vulnerable settings, to all healthcare workers caring for immunocompromised patients and testing for immunocompromised asymptomatic individuals such as cancer patients.
Additionally, the new guidelines will open up mobile testing for anyone who desires a test in high volume work settings such as factories and industrial settings.
To date, Saskatchewan has reported 620 cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, 120 are considered active and 494 have recovered.