Omicron Surge Plan Unveiled, Shahab Considered Close Contact After Premier Tests Positive

Because Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer sat physically distanced across from Premier Scott Moe on Wednesday, although Dr. Saqib Shahab was masked, he has been contacted as a close contact after the Premier’s rapid test indicated he is positive for COVID-19 today (Thurs). Shahab says his family does regular testing, and he will now do a rapid test on days three, five and seven, but he adds the he and the Premier are now in a situation which many front line workers have been in since the beginning, but now with Omicron it is more transmissible, so he advises everyone to be more aware.

Most people who get it won’t even know it because they are asymptomatic. He adds most of us will likely get exposed to Omicron, so get your vaccinations and your booster shots.

The increased transmissibility of Omicron is why the Saskatchewan Health Authority has updated its surge plans for the health care system, with the expected increase in demand and an increase in staff absenteeism. Interim COO of the SHA, Derek Miller, says health care is no different from other sectors, so it will see an impact. In the last week, the SHA has seen an increase in absences related to Omicron across the province.

The SHA is planning for 15 to 20 per cent absences, but Miller doesn’t suggest this will happen across the province all at once, but it could happen in a facility or in a community outbreak. There are five key strategies, which include establishing Go Teams of medical professionals who can quickly be deployed across the province, optimizing acute care capacity and emergency department flow, maintaining enhancement to Emergency Medical Services put in place to manage additional demand through previous surges, implementing key human resource strategies like cross training staff and utilizing Supplemental Workforce Teams, and time-limited targeted service slowdowns when required.

The 811 HealthLine has had three times more calls in January than usual so the wait time is long. The SHA says 72 administrative staff and 11 registered nurses are being added to help with that.


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