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Premier Scott Moe speaks to media after the Throne Speech at the Legislative Building in Regina on Nov. 30, 2020.Michael Bell /The Canadian Press

A senior official with the Saskatchewan Health Authority says the province’s health-care system won’t be able to cope if the recent growth in COVID-19 cases continues.

Dr. Julie Kryzanowski’s presentation to more than 100 physicians at a virtual town hall last week has been posted online.

She told the town hall that in the last week officials had recorded exponential growth in infections, outbreaks, hospitalizations and deaths.

“We do know that with this rate of growth it’s not sustainable for our health system and continues to stress our capacity,” doctors heard, hours after the health authority announced it was diverting up to 60 staff to respond to the surge.

For almost three weeks, masks have been mandatory in indoor public spaces provincewide and no more than five visitors have been allowed to gather inside a home.

Kryzanowski said in her remarks that the public-health orders “are expected to help dampen that rate of growth.”

“But we also know that there’s momentum behind this, so as those measures are introduced, the more restrictive those measures need to be.”

The presentation stated that “the slower measures are implemented the more restrictive the measures will need to be.”

The effect of the latest public-health orders added almost two weeks ago – a 30-person limit for public venues and no team sports – will take several weeks to see any impact, Krysanowski said.

She said the effectiveness of the rules depends on how many people comply.

Doctors were also told to expect a time lag between hospitalizations for COVID-19 and a change in case numbers.

“Hospitalizations, ICU admissions, deaths will continue to rise even as case numbers are maybe flattening because of that lag period.”

Health Minister Paul Merriman said Tuesday that the government and health officials would reveal early next week what public-health rules would apply over the holidays. The current measures expire Dec. 17.

Premier Scott Moe has said he hopes to be able to relax some restrictions to allow people to gather over Christmas, but that will depend on the severity of the virus’s spread.

Tuesday marked the deadliest day of the pandemic yet in Saskatchewan with six additional deaths. Five people who died were in their 80s and one resident was in their 30s.

The province also reported 183 new infections and said 144 people were in hospital, with 27 in intensive care.

Moe was to outline his province’s vaccine delivery plan Tuesday, but a power outage at the legislature in Regina delayed that by a day.

He has said the first in line once a vaccine is approved and delivered will be health workers and some of the province’s most vulnerable, including long-term care residents.

Moe told the legislative assembly on Monday that it appeared the province’s case numbers were stabilizing, but that the seven-day average for daily cases was still too high at 264.

The premier said his Saskatchewan Party government will start vaccinations “as quickly as physically possible.”

Moe said vaccinations will happen in phases determined by health officials as more doses become available in the new year.

The government said getting a COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory, but a communications plan will be part of the distribution.