Saskatchewan reports 308 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations continue to break records

Saskatchewan reported 308 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began. This brings the provincial total of cases to 4,820.

The government of Saskatchewan says Saturday’s high case count is partly due to the snowstorm that hit the province earlier this week.

Read more: Saskatchewan expands mask mandate, implements curfew on bars with COVID-19 deaths imminent in weeks ahead

The storm “resulted in fewer people going for testing, and some delays in getting samples from remote locations to the provincial labs,” said the government in a press release.

“Although we expect to see higher and lower case numbers daily which will average out, there is an upward trend in positive case numbers.”

The cases are largely driven by positive results in Saskatchewan’s north and in Saskatoon, a region that nearly tripled its cases in a single day.

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“Today’s record high case numbers are a reminder that the spread of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan is higher now than it has even been throughout Saskatchewan including urban, rural, Northern and First Nations areas and that we all need to redouble our efforts to protect ourselves and others,” said chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab in a press release.

“Wear a mask, limit your number of personal contacts, limit your number of visitors from outside your household, don’t leave home if you are feeling sick, and make sure you’re always physically distancing and washing your hands often. We all need to do our part to limit the spread.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan announces new restrictions as case counts head in ‘wrong direction’' 1:55 Coronavirus: Saskatchewan announces new restrictions as case counts head in ‘wrong direction’

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan announces new restrictions as case counts head in ‘wrong direction’

Here are where Saturday’s new cases are located:

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  • Far North West: 26
  • Far North Central: eight
  • Far North East: 16
  • North West: 23
  • North Central: 30
  • North East: 30
  • Saskatoon: 123
  • Central West: seven
  • Regina: 20
  • South West: two
  • South Central: three
  • South East: three

The location of 10 cases remains pending.

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There are 1,691 active cases in the province, with a total of 3,100 people recovered from the virus.

Click to play video 'Saskatchewan doctors say province losing fight with COVID-19' 1:18 Saskatchewan doctors say province losing fight with COVID-19

Saskatchewan doctors say province losing fight with COVID-19

The province continues to break records for COVID-19 hospitalizations, putting a strain on health facilities and workers.

There are 57 people in hospital, 16 of whom are in the ICU. Both are new highs for the province.

On Friday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority begged the public to obey public health orders as it plans to reactivate its emergency plan, not used since the spring, to deal with the imminent hospitalizations and deaths resulting from new cases.

“When you see an uptick in hospitalizations, you see an uptick in mortality and death. You don’t need a forecast for that. That’s what we know about the virus today,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said on Friday.

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Read more: Nurses union, NDP respond to Saskatchewan’s rising COVID-19 cases

On Friday, the province implemented new measures to prevent the spread of the virus by expanding the province’s mask mandate, recommending in-class learning for some high schools, and implementing a curfew on bars and nightclubs.

While the business community praised the government for its new measures in an open letter, hundreds of doctors criticized the government for not doing enough.

“It is clear that, without aggressive intervention, case numbers will continue to increase exponentially here just as they have in Alberta and Manitoba. This will overwhelm a healthcare system that is already functioning at capacity and result in the deaths of people from both COVID19 and other causes,” reads the letter, addressed to Health Minister Paul Merriman, Premier Scott Moe and Shahab.

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The doctors are asking for more aggressive measures like a province-wide mask mandate, public education to dismantle falsehoods around COVID-19 and an increase in contact tracing capacity.

“The spread of COVID-19 within our province has reached the point where we are unsure whether these interventions will be sufficient to prevent our system from becoming overwhelmed,” reads the letter. “While we appreciate the plans for field hospitals, we are concerned that we will not have enough healthcare providers to staff them.”

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As of Saturday, Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 29.

To date, the province has processed 294,737 COVID-19 tests, up 3,665 from Friday.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.