Merriman hopeful tide is turning on the 4th wave of COVID-19 pandemic

The Saskatchewan Health Minister isn’t ready to say the 4th wave of the pandemic is over, but he is optimistic that the tide is beginning to turn.

Paul Merriman is hopeful that COVID numbers have now peaked in the province.

He says there a couple of factors that have contributed to a decrease of case numbers over the past couple of days. “I think it’s attributed to a few things, it’s attributed to our vaccination increasing, that we’re doing over 2000 shots a day and also the restrictions that we’ve put into place, the QR code, the restrictions within businesses and certain events, I think that’s helping as well.”

With ICU capacity reaching near its maximum in the province, Saskatchewan have begun discussions with Ontario about possibly sending over ICU patients. Merriman says that he’s been meeting with his counterpart in Ontario, Christine Elliot to discuss the matter.

If Saskatchewan is needing to send out ICU patients to Ontario will be accommodating says Merriman. “What happened in the past, when we took patients from other provinces, we did it in very low numbers, two or three at a time, just to be able to relieve some pressure and then move out. We haven’t gotten a hard number from Ontario as to how many they would take, but the minister offered any help they could offer Saskatchewan, just give us a call and we’ll reach out when we hit that point.”

While the province have looked to support from other provinces, they haven’t asked for assistance from the federal government to provide some relief for ICU beds. Merriman says while they haven’t requested extra support from the government recently he noted that Saskatchewan has worked alongside the federal government on other aspects of COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the province has received vaccines, needles and ventilators from the federal government. Merriman added that not too many ICU beds would open up in the province if they would ask for relief from Ottawa. “There’s not a huge pool of ICU nurses that the federal government has access to. Alberta did reach out and they got the equivalent of to 8 ICU beds opened up from the federal government, so we’re working with other provinces and as well the federal government to make sure we’re addressing this as much as we can.”

When asked why the province hasn’t released the modelling data for the COVID-19, Merriman says the modelling data that they possess do leave out several factors that may alter their decisions. “It’s not taking into account everything that’s happening out there, like increased vaccination rates, also it doesn’t take into account the 20% of the cases under the age of 20, there’s very low risk of those ending up in hospital just because of their age and their ability to fight COVID. The modelling looks at one scenario of this is what could happen if nothing changed from now until a month from now, so its not that accurate.”

The health minister spoke today after receiving his flu shot to help kick off the flu shot program in Saskatchewan.

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