Sask. Premier hints at lifting restrictions when COVID-19 cases start to crest

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Premier of Saskatchewan is suggesting that COVID-19 restrictions may soon be lifted. He said current measures may have outlived their usefulness.

Scott Moe made these comments as he spoke to John Gormley, a radio host on 980 CJME Wednesday morning.

Moe stated on the radio that “in the next few days, you will see some additional communication around the existing Public Health Orders or the existing Restrictions we have in place, and in particular those that are impacting youth.”

The premier stated that officials would consider ending the strict contact isolation requirements that prevent students from participating in extra-curricular activities. He also indicated that the proof of vaccination requirement will likely be eliminated.

Moe stated, “The goal is remove all these restrictions whenever we are able.”

Moe stated, “It’s now for us as a government to manage COVID as our move forward, and for us as society to understand that COVID will be with us for some time.”

Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Saqib, stated that proof of vaccination requirements was successful during the Delta wave. However, things are more complicated now, partly because a double dose vaccine isn’t as effective against Omicron variant.

Dr. Shahab stated that the data clearly shows that being boosted is crucial to further reduce your chance of serious outcomes.

Shahab stated that jurisdictions in the country are at a crossroads and must make decisions about whether to update their proof of vaccination requirements to include booster doses or if they want to remove them altogether. The government will ultimately decide how they navigate through the current surge, he said.

Shahab stated, “We must change our policies and order to adapt for changing realities.” He cited the recent reduction in the self-isolation time as an example of adapting to the times.

“What we will do in two months’ time is something that must be discussed.”

Doctors believe that a booster dose is the best way to protect against Omicron. Dr. Satchan Takaya however, stated that two doses will still reduce the effects. She said that proof of vaccination is important in controlling an increase in hospitalizations.

Dr. Takaya stated, “We know that people who progress to severe diseases are those who are not vaccinated.”

“Proof of vaccination has value so long as it works for the variants we face and it does right now.”

Dr. Nazeem Mohajarine, an epidemiologist, said that the government should expand its definition of fully vaccinated so it includes booster doses.

Although vaccinations are temporary, Muhajarine stated that they should not be lifted until at minimum 85 percent of eligible populations have been fully vaccinated. On Wednesday, 79% of the five-year-olds and older had received their second dose.

 

Muhajarine stated that lifting restrictions should not be driven solely by a date on the calendar.

“I don’t believe we are anywhere close to putting Omicron behind our backs yet.”

The current public health order will expire in February.

Muhajarine suggested that the government outline the metrics it uses to decide when restrictions will be lifted. He suggested that measures be kept in place until hospitalizations decline and case numbers drop consistently over a two week period.

Muhajarine stated that “Musings from the premier regarding lifting restrictions are a grave worry.”

Dr. Shahab says that test positivity indicates that case numbers are rising and could reach their peak this week.

We should see a decrease in the number of cases within the next two-four weeks. However, hospitalizations will rise during that time.

Dr. Shahab stated that we should “stay the course” in the short-term, which means limiting contact with non-essential people.

Shahab stated, “Even though the pandemic is cresting, we must not relax our steps immediately. That would be disastrous.”