Six months ago, Premier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That resulted in the province shutting its doors for a number of weeks in an attempt to limit the virus and flatten the curve. It is a measure that worked with the “Re-Open Saskatchewan” plan devised by the government to slowly get the economy rolling again has been successful.
The man that many have come to depend on for guidance is talking on the six month anniversary about what it has been like to be the face of the effort for battling the pandemic in Saskatchewan.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it has been challenging and has made for many long days, but he is proud of the way things have been handled here.
He says it has been quite the experience especially because it is a situation where new information comes at him all the time.
“We know a lot more about the virus now than what we did in February when we knew there was going to be a global pandemic.” Shahab said during an interview with 620 CKRM. “We know a lot more about the virus so we can use that knowledge to keep numbers low. We know we can’t eliminate it, but we are now confident in going back to school or work or doing other things that we like, like getting together in a small crowd can be done because of the protocols we announced to keep everyone safe.”
Shahab acknowledges not every decision that has been made has been popular with everyone, but he stresses the moves have been done to keep Saskatchewan citizens safe and the case count to be low. That case count has been low which the CMHO says can be credited to the co-operation that has been received by people from border-to-border.
“Saskatchewan residents exceeded any expectations when it comes to flattening the curve right from the beginning. We were able to keep essential businesses open which is something we can be very proud of.” Shahab said. “We just have to keep doing what we have been doing. In some areas, we have relaxed what we are doing, but we just need to remain vigilant which is what I have been saying for some time. That includes having a mask, which is something we just have to get used to. Having one handy and putting it on when required will help tremendously. I know people can get weary of these measures and I realize that is hard. We can’t give up on the gains that we’ve made and that we just need to look at other jurisdictions to see how things have spiralled downwards.”
The biggest question many have now is when they can get out to enjoy events and large gatherings again. Shahab can’t give a definite, but he is hopeful that news we need to hear can happen before 2021 hits.
“It is hard to put a fixed date on it, but the vaccine scenario looks better now than it was two or three months ago.” Shahab said. “I think by the end of the year, we should have a good idea when a vaccine is available and when we can get access to it whether it be later in the spring or early in the summer. Shahab stated. “Depending on how effective it is, that is when we can look at relaxing or ending the further restrictions that we have in place in those areas. We need to get through the fall and winter as well as we got through this spring and summer and protect those that are most vulnerable. While we have learned a lot, how big we can go is something we have to do cautiously.”