Hundreds of doctors write letter to province saying Saskatchewan is losing against COVID-19

A number of physicians in Saskatchewan wrote a letter to the Premier citing their concern that the province is losing in the fight against COVID-19.

A total of 260 doctors penned the letter addressed to Premier Scott Moe, Dr. Saqib Shahab, and Health Minister Paul Merriman, asking for them to implement stronger measures to help curb the spread of the virus.

The letter states: “We appreciate that, in battling this pandemic, there are no easy solutions. From the inconvenience of wearing masks, to the isolation of social distancing and quarantine, to the harms felt by local business with every escalation in restrictions, we know that doing more will be difficult for Saskatchewan people. However, the lives of our friends and neighbours are on the line.”

One of the doctors behind the letter, Dr. Tamara Hinz at Royal University Hospital says people need to understand that, even without COVID-19, hospitals are packed.

“I think what the average person may not fully appreciate is how close to capacity our ICUs and hospitals typically run, even outside a pandemic,” said Hinz. “So. it really doesn’t take that much of an increase before you start running out of hospital beds, or staff to take care of patients.”

The letter addresses the recent increase in case numbers province wide. In just over a month, active cases have gone from 161 to 1,305. With triple-digit case numbers announced for five of the past six days.

The group goes on to say, if the province continues on its current trajectory, they’re confident the winter will bring overflowing hospitals, canceled surgeries, overwhelmed healthcare providers, and needless deaths.

Hinz says while the letter is addressed to the government, it should serve as a message to the public as well.

“We value transparency and openness, and that’s why we also released the letter so widely on social media,” said Hinz. “It’s addressed to our public officials, but we also think that it’s really important that the general public understands our concerns and where we’re coming from as well.”

They also urge the government to look at models in place in the Maritimes, New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea, who have all successfully slowed the spread.

Hinz says they don’t want the government to copy those models exactly, they just want the province to look at them as a template.

“I think it’s important that what we do here makes sense for our local conditions and our local economy,” said Hinz. “The plan needs to be made in Saskatchewan tailored for Saskatchewan, but on the other hand, I think we need to be humble enough, and open-minded enough, to look to other jurisdictions that have been successful, and see what we can learn and borrow from them.”

While the group doesn’t point to any specific action they wish to be taken, they say whatever the government decides to do will be met with pushback.

“Both action and inaction will be criticized. We humbly ask you to act with sufficient force to reverse the rising daily case counts while also detailing how and when we would escalate our interventions even further. Making decisions, even when difficult, is the hallmark of strong leadership,” said the letter.

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