Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says it’s “business as usual” for schools and there is no reason at this time to shut them down over concerns about COVID-19.
Dr. Saqib Shahab says the six presumptive cases in the province are travel-related and the risk is still low of contracting the novel coronavirus.
He does say, however, that it’s critical that parents not send their children to school if they have even a mild fever, cough or runny nose.
School closures would be considered if there were sustained community spread of the virus, a rapid increase in local cases or transmission without a known link to travel or confirmed cases.
Shahab says he is in constant touch with local jurisdictions, public health authorities and school divisions and will continue to monitor the situation.
Shahab says closing schools would have a domino effect for parents.
“Parents would have to stay home or make arrangements for care that may be worse than a school setting,” he said at an update Sunday.
Saskatchewan’s two main universities are cancelling in-person classes for the rest of the semester. The University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon are moving to online lessons this coming week.
Shahab reiterated the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from a trip overseas and to self-monitor after travel within Canada to large conferences or cultural events.
He urged people to take pressure off the 811 health-link line and off testing centres by first using an online self-assessment the province has provided.
“We need to conserve testing for when it’s needed.”
The Saskatchewan health authority has restricted visitors at its facilities to one at a time for people in critical care or acute-care units.
Events with more than 250 people are not being allowed in the province nor will events with more than 50 attendees if someone has recently travelled internationally.
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