SHA estimates up to 408,000 people could get COVID-19 in Saskatchewan as ‘worst case scenario’

A range of “what-if” scenarios are being released by the Saskatchewan Health Authority when it comes to what COVID-19 numbers could look like in the province.

The SHA says cases could vary from 153,000 to 408,000 meaning almost a third of the population could come down with the virus. This depends on how quickly the virus may spread and would be higher if current mechanisms weren’t already in place.

When it comes to deaths, the SHA is putting it anywhere from 3,075 to 8,370 in Saskatchewan.

The SHA is not giving an exact date as for when infections will peak or when life can begin returning to normal, but they do say it will continue for “weeks and months to come”

CEO of the SHA, Scott Livingstone says that while Canadian data is showing some positive signs about flattening the curve, people can’t start to get complacent.

“We need to continue to escalate our response to ensure we are prepared for the worst-case scenarios,” said Livingstone. “We need the public to help us avoid these scenarios.”

The SHA says they have ramped up testing through the creation of 38 new testing sites around the province and tripling up the staff needed for contact tracing.

They are also planning on increasing the acute care system by 57 percent over the next couple of weeks to deal with anticipated hospitalization rates. The SHA stresses that none of the major changes laid out are immediate.

Some of the major changes planned include:

-Creating dedicated spaces to be able to cohort COVID-19 patients

-Designating certain hospitals as COVID-19 hospitals. The SHA has identified 20 out of its 65 hospitals that would be labelled COVID-19 hospitals.

-Adding acute care capacity through the creation of field hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina, with more locations being considered.

The new measures are in addition to actions already taken by the SHA to meet the demands of COVID-19. A slowdown of non-essential services to increase bed capacity across the system for handling a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the course of the pandemic.

According to the SHA, as of April 5th, 43 percent of acute care beds in the province were open.

Livingstone added that many of the proposed changes would only come into effect in response to anticipated surges to would exceed capacity.

“Changes like conversion to COVID-19 dedicated hospitals will only occur where it is absolutely required to ensure safety and maintain access for patients who need our care,” said Livingstone.

The Health Authority says that Saskatchewan residents can continue to help keep case numbers low by practicing good hygiene, taking care of family who may be in self-isolation orders, abiding by provincial restrictions, and avoiding visiting hospitals and long-term care facilities unless for compassionate reasons.

Chief Medical Officer for the SHA, Dr. Susan Shaw said that no health system in the world can manage COVID-19 without the help from the general public.

“To save lives, Saskatchewan residents need to do their best to stay healthy and strong and abide by the restrictions and guidelines for the general public around COVID-19,” said Shaw. “Demand will exceed our capacity as a health system if we are not diligent about these measures.”

Health System Readiness for COVID-19

More from 620 CKRM