‘A fall and winter of misery’: Sask.’s top doctor predicts grim end of 2021

REGINA — The province’s chief medical health officer has offered a bleak prediction as to how Saskatchewan people might be spending the holidays this year, given record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.

“We will not only not have Thanksgiving at this rate, we will likely not have Christmas and New Years at this rate,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab during a provincial COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

“We are headed for a fall and winter of misery.”

Saskatchewan has been steadily breaking pandemic records for weeks now. The Delta-fuelled fourth wave of COVID-19 has pushed new case counts, active cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and the rolling average of new infections to all-time highs in the province.

In September, there were 12,370 new cases recorded – accounting for 18.5 per cent of total cases recorded in the province since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Dr. Shahab, the hospitalization rate is expected to continue increasing. He said the new cases seen two weeks ago are resulting in up to 25 hospitalizations each day and five ICU admissions – and it’s anticipated those numbers will keep rising.

In 2020, the province implemented strict gathering restrictions days before Christmas. Private gatherings were limited to immediate households. When those measures went into effect on Dec. 17, the seven-day average of new cases was half of what was recorded Wednesday and there were 126 COVID-19 patients in hospital – compared to the pandemic-high 311 recorded Tuesday.

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