Emotional Sask. chief medical health officer pleads with public amid dire new COVID-19 modelling

The variety of Saskatchewan residents contaminated with COVID-19 and positioned beneath intensive care may greater than double by the new yr if no further public health measures are introduced in and if individuals do not change their behaviours within the subsequent few weeks, says the province’s chief medical health officer.

Dr. Saqib Shahab broke down Wednesday throughout a COVID-19 media teleconference when discussing new modelling, which suggests a possible spike in COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations that will start in early December and attain its peak within the new yr.

As of Wednesday, there have been 82 COVID-19 sufferers in Saskatchewan’s ICUs, plus one other 35 individuals with out COVID-19, inflicting health staff in overburdened hospitals to ship six ICU sufferers to Ontario.

The modelling — launched by the federal government shortly earlier than the information convention — means that even when booster pictures are made obtainable to extra individuals, if present behaviour persists, the variety of Saskatchewan COVID-19 sufferers in ICUs may attain properly over 200 by Jan. 1. 

(Saskatchewan authorities)

Other modelling eventualities instructed that, if individuals scale back their contacts and measures akin to non-public and public gathering limits are reintroduced, the variety of COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations might be slowed and even go down from its present, unsustainable degree. Saskatchewan usually has 79 obtainable ICU beds in complete. 

“What we do individually in terms of getting vaccinated, staying home if you’re sick, being very careful around our gatherings, following all the protocols including mask use, can change the trajectory,” Shahab mentioned. “Our individual and collective behaviour is a key component that is, to some extent, impacted by government orders.”

“But we’ve always worked hard and we’ve pulled together and it’s been a divisive time many times,” he continued, his voice breaking. “In the past, there’s [been a] mention that: ‘Dr. Shahab just pleads to the public and he doesn’t direct an order,’ but I have no shame in pleading to the public.

“We’ve gone thus far. We simply have to drag alongside for the following few weeks or months.”

WATCH | Dr. Shahab breaks down during COVID-19 news conference:

Asked if he was OK by a reporter, Shahab paused at length and said: “All the proof is on the market. It is very distressing to see unvaccinated, younger, wholesome individuals ending up in ICU and dying. I’m watching this from a distance, however the stress this places.… We discuss physician burnout. To see younger lives misplaced to a vaccine preventable illness — how can we settle for this?”

Another slide presented by Shahab showed how the majority of infected Saskatchewan people showing up in hospitals are unvaccinated.  

(Saskatchewan government)

“We have to be cautious till the ICU numbers come approach down,” Shahab said, cautioning in particular against large Halloween parties next weekend. 

“Lots of individuals mixing unvaccinated, vaccinated could be a recipe for future challenges.”

If the province’s case numbers and hospitalizations come down, “then we will cautiously hope for a greater vacation season,” he said. 

Shahab still silent on recommendations to government

Shahab has been asked lately to clarify what specific public health recommendations he has made to the Saskatchewan government during the fourth wave. As an employee of the Ministry of Health, Shahab cannot unilaterally impose public health orders, but he can make recommendations for the government’s consideration.

While the government has adopted some measures cautioned by health-care workers, including a renewed mandatory masking order and a proof-of-vaccination policy for some workers and people wanting to enter some non-essential businesses, other suggested measures, including gathering limits, have not been launched. 


On Wednesday, before he broke down, Shahab was asked if he had recommended gathering limits prior to  Thanksgiving to the Saskatchewan government. He again declined to answer specifically. 

“From my aspect, all choices are introduced to authorities and it’s as much as authorities to just accept choices that they suppose are applicable for that cut-off date. But once more, my desire is that we be proactive reasonably than reactive,” Shahab said. 

When pressed further, he said it was up to the government’s cabinet members to disclose details of his recommendations. 

“This is identical in each province,” he said. 


Below is the full modelling presentation shared on Wednesday. 

Earlier this week, the government’s director of communications declined to provide those details. 




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