Saskatchewan’s Public Health Officials are urging continued caution as the first cases of the U.K. COVID-19 variant has been found inside the province.
The two cases were found in the Regina area. These individuals were tested in mid-January and while the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory is testing for the variant now, the tests must be taken to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for genome sequencing. This process takes between a week and two weeks.
Both of these people have quarantined already and are no longer infectious, and tracing has determined all other contacts, and there has been no further risk of transmission.
The Government says if there is a further risk of the U.K. COVID-19 variant or any other of concern, they will issue a public health warning.
In the meantime, people are asked to continue COVID-19 prevention steps like avoiding non-necessary travel, washing hands, masking in public, physically distancing and getting tested even if showing mild symptoms.
More vaccines headed to North Battleford, other towns as shortages continue
In an update on February 2nd, Premier Scott Moe says the process to get more vaccines is continuing despite challenges with supply across Canada.
He noted that while they have not received any new doses in over a week, 5,850 from Pfizer are expected to arrive within the next two days, which will be put towards the required second shot in North Battleford, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. As well, first shots will begin in Moosomin.
A shipment of 6,000 Moderna vaccines, originally planned to arrive February 1st, will also arrive sometime this week, which will also be used for second shots in the Far-North and North Central regions, as well as some first shots in the West-Central area, in towns like Rosetown and Kindersley.
This shipment is lower than anticipated, and another slated for the end of the month is also expected to be below originally thought totals, but Moe says it’s not known how much lower yet. He adds that while it’s good to see that doses are coming, it’s still small numbers compared to need and what health providers can deliver.
He notes that between healthcare workers, long term residents and care staff as well as people over 70, there are 190,000 people needing two doses each in phase one of the Saskatchewan vaccine rollout.
“We need more vaccines, and we need them more quickly. The federal government says that we can expect vaccine deliveries to really ramp up in the second quarter of this year, and we’d like to see that sooner, if possible, into Q1.”
When the new doses arrive, 12 per cent of first phase vaccine recipients will be complete, Moe adds.
He also called for more vaccine options to be approved by Health Canada, an option that he says will speed up the process. He urged the federal government to negotiate a system to enhance delivery.
“I would note that other countries are speeding up the pace of vaccine deliveries. Just this morning I noted that Pfizer announced it was speeding up its timetable delivery of for 200 million to the USA. That’s from the end of July until May. That’s a significant acceleration in the pace of vaccine deliveries. So we’d like to see the federal government negotiate similar increases here in Saskatchewan.”
Moe also announced that early next week, they will be announcing their sequencing plan for phase two of vaccines, which is when the general public will start receiving them.