In a press conference Monday, Premier Scott Moe said that the current public health orders are having an effect on youth across the province.
Moe acknowledged the existing health measures like indoor masking and mandatory vaccination requirements are impacting young people and is reluctant to increase the measures. He repeated that there is no clear evidence that stricter measures are working in other provinces.
Moe shared that he spoke with the mother of a young boy who missed playing in multiple hockey games because he was a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
“For that young individual, that’s tough,” said Moe.
“Those are the type of consequences that are still occurring even with the public health measures that we do have in place.”
He said the provincial government wants “to limit the impact, at this point, in particular on our youth.”
Emily Hornung, a University of Saskatchewan pharmacy student, believes she contracted Omicron after being exposed at a New Year’s Eve gathering.
“A few of [my friends] had tested positive a few days after we were all together so I wanted to be sure I was safe to be around others,” said Hornung, “especially because I have an immunocompromised family member.”
Hornung had almost no symptoms, apart from a mild sore throat the morning that she took the Rapid Antigen Test and tested positive.
“It did force me to relax, and I feel like I’m in a better headspace for schoolwork because of those days off,” said Hornung.
Two months ago there were no reported cases of Omicron in Saskatchewan and health experts were “very concerned” about Omicron.
Now, the Government of Saskatchewan says “the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory is reporting that 95 per cent of new cases are Omicron cases.”
Based on this statistic, the Saskatchewan Health Authority is telling residents to assume they have Omicron if they test positive for COVID.
Scientific information regarding Omicron from laboratory testing and international studies have been released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO reports there is a decreased risk of hospitalization with the Omicron variant.
Moe addressed his contraction of Omicron saying, “I really had little, if any symptoms at all.”
He attributed his mild case to being fully vaccinated plus receiving a booster shot. As he has done for months, the premier continued encouraging others to get vaccinated.
Paul Merriman, minister of health, said, “we have seen an almost 18 per cent decrease in our hospitalizations across the province.”
Merriman said that around 85 per cent of ICU beds in the province are currently filled.
“This is showing that we are prepared for what could be more people coming into the hospital system.”
In a press conference on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief health officer warned not to trivialize Omicron.
“Many people, particularly those at high risk, can get very severely sick and indeed, many have died and we need to do what we can to prevent those,” said Tam.
Moe said that a change in trajectory of the hospitalizations is what would prompt the province to introduce stricter public health measures.