Saskatchewan Government Updates Testing and Isolation Guidelines

During a briefing on Thursday, Premier Scott Moe announced changes in guidelines for what residents should do if they test positive using a home testing kit.

Under SHA guidance the province will no longer require a PCR test for asymptomatic residents if a positive test is found during a home rapid test.

The government also announced isolation restrictions moving from 10 days to just 5 days if a positive test is found.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says the changes to isolation restrictions encourages the citizens of the province to do more self testing in a proactive fashion. “The approach that worked for the previous strain, that doesn’t work for omicron. By the time you do a PCR test and get in touch with contact, those who are exposed are already transmitting in two or three days.”

Schools are going ahead as plan in the new year because according to Shahab, Saskatchewan is not seeing the peak levels that other provinces are currently experiencing.

Premier Scott Moe says with the omicron variant the province will be prioritizing the hospitalization numbers ahead of the case numbers. “You’re seeing other provinces as well starting to look at hospitalizations and ICUs as their indicator as there is just a different relationship, this is just a different virus, then what we have dealt with the past, there’s a different relationship between the numbers and the daily case count and the number of hospitalizations, if there’s any relationship at all.”

The Premier admitted that COVID will be present in some form for some time and said if we want to avoid further restrictions, or possible lockdowns, residents should go out and get their vaccine, whether it’s their first, second or third dose. He also advises everyone to pick up their free rapid test. Moe pointed out that Saskatchewan is a leader among the distribution of rapid tests in the country. So far Saskatchewan has handed out 12 million rapid tests with another 4 million expected to be available for pickup in the month of January.

Health Minister Paul Merriman echoed the Premier statement that hospitalizations numbers would be the key number that the government will be monitoring.  “If the hospitalization and the ICU start to increase, and what we are seeing with Ontario and Quebec, they are about a week to ten days ahead of us, if they start to move in their hospitalizations then we would have a different decision, but right now we have had no indicators that the hospitalizations are jumping in other jurisdictions from people coming in, presenting ill with COVID-19.”

Compared to other provinces, Saskatchewan is in a much better position against Omicron as compared to other provinces according to Merriman. “We have 11 million tests out there, I can guarantee you that Quebec does not have 19 million tests  out there, rapid tests  that they can distribute to their population. We’re leading in booster, those are the two key indicators that are going to helps us with Omicron that is our booster shot and rapid tests.”

The Health Minister added “We’ve seen other provinces that have had restrictions in and their cases are still surging.”

Masks are also an essential tool according to Moe, he notes that are highly effective and that individuals should continue wearing them when they are in the public.

Dr. Shahab does recommend reducing contacts over New Years Eve, keeping gatherings limited to just 10 people and to  either two or three different households. If an individual chooses to celebrate the new year at a restaurant, bar or any other public venue, they are asked to follow public health orders with masking required in all public spaces when you are not at your table.


NDP Leader Ryan Meili responds to Premier Moe’s announcement to changes on COVID-19 testing and measuring update.



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