3,075 coronavirus deaths forecast for Saskatchewan in low-range scenario: SHA

Modelling released by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) suggests 3,075 people could die in the province from the novel coronavirus in a low-range scenario.

It’s one of three scenarios the SHA released on Wednesday.

The SHA said in the low-range case scenario, 153,000 people in the province could be infected during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A peak of 390 patients would be in hospital simultaneously, with 120 in intensive care, and 90 to 95 per cent requiring ventilation.

SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said all three projections are based on current COVID-19 measures in the province, including testing, tracing and physical distancing.

“Our job as a health-care system is to provide care for those in need and to be ready for any scenario,” Livingstone said.

“While we understand Canadian data is starting to show some hopeful signs about flattening the curve on COVID-19, it is critical to remember not to be complacent.

“We need to continue to escalate our response to ensure we are prepared for the worst-case scenarios and we need the public to help us avoid those scenarios.”

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Under the mid-range scenario, total cumulative deaths are forecast at 5,260, with 262,000 total cases.

At its peak, 1,265 people would be hospitalized simultaneously, with 380 of those in intensive care.

Total deaths under the high-range scenario are estimated at 8,370, with 4,265 patients in hospital simultaneously, 1,280 of those in intensive care.

As of Tuesday, there have been 260 confirmed cases in the province, with three COVID-19-related deaths.

The health authority cautioned the modelling is not a prediction, but instead provides “what if” scenarios to guide planning.

Livingstone said the health authority is taking measures to deal with the next phase of the pandemic, including designating certain hospitals as COVID-19 hospitals and setting up field hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina.

“We wanted to be transparent with the plan going forward so the public is aware of the escalated measures we will put into place if needed,” Livingstone said.

“It is critical to remember that many of the changes proposed in this plan will be implemented only in response to anticipated surges in patient demand that start to exceed our capacity.”

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The SHA has identified 20 of its 65 hospitals that would be designated as COVID-19 hospitals, but Livingstone said those will only be converted if needed.

“Changes like conversion to COVID-19 dedicated hospitals will only occur where it is absolutely required to ensure safety and maintain access for patients who need our care,” he said.

The SHA said people must continue measures such as social distancing, self-isolation and good hygiene to help flatten the curve.

“No health system in the world can manage this challenge without the sustained help of the general public,” said SHA chief medical officer Dr. Susan Shaw.

“To save lives, Saskatchewan residents need to do their best to stay healthy and strong and abide by the restrictions and guidelines for the general public around COVID-19.

“Demand will exceed our capacity as a health system if we are not diligent about these measures.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic will continue for weeks and months to come, the SHA said, and the full picture or impact may not be fully understood until after it is over.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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