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The expert calls for a blockade between cases of growing variants in Regina




The number of cases of disturbing variant COVID (VoC) virus in Regina is increasing and has led an infectious disease doctor to call for a local blockage.

In total, 141 of the 156 confirmed VCCs in Saskatchewan have been in Regina since March 21st. There were 625 Alleged VoC cases in the province and 527 of them were in the capital. That compares high-rise VoC cases in the province, six of which were in Regina, two weeks ago on March 8th.

Cases of the variant are spreading so fast that Regina is now at a critical point and must act immediately to stop it, said Dr. Alex Wong, an infectious disease doctor in the capital.

“This is already causing real strain on our acute care capacity, on our ICU capacity,” Wongsaid said. “There is no way we will be able to have the capacity and ability to be able to control what we are doing now in the city.”

The pandemic is expected to worsen

Not only are there more serious patients and hospitalizations, but Wong said he thinks the situation will escalate and will be worse than anything Saskatchewan has seen so far in this pandemic.

“We need to get back to basics and basics are eliminating as many contacts as we can between individuals, tracking down very aggressive contacts to try to track down cases very quickly and isolate close contacts very quickly.”

Dr. Alex Wong, an infectious disease specialist, said a blockage is needed in Regina to control the rapid spread of disturbing variants of the coronavirus. (CBC News)

The provincial Ministry of Health is responsible for imposing restrictions or measures to deal with the pandemic and they have not responded to CBC Saskatchewan request for comment yet today.

Dr. Maurice Hennink, Regina Health Medical Officer with Saskatchewan Health Authority (JSC), told Morning Edition that the inhabitants of Regina must take appropriate action.

Currently, residents of the capital are able to create “bubbles” of two three houses, with a maximum of 10 people. People are also able to gather outside in groups of up to 10 if physical distance can be maintained between families. Shops and restaurants are open with limited capacity and sports practices are possible with some restrictions.

Wong warned that Regina needs to do it faster because the city already has the highest percentage of 100,000 VoCsper people from anywhere in Canada.

‘We need an aggressive blockade’

“Too far from control we are in a situation where I do not think we can rely solely on the trust and goodwill of the public,” Wong said. “We need an aggressive block, as you like to call it, a breaker to stop the transmission as quickly as possible.”

Provincial modeling from the JSC presented to doctors on March 16 said the transmission rate in the province is expected to accelerate with VoC. The modeling suggested that intensive care numbers could go from 29 to more than 120 by May under current restrictions.

In a presentation to doctors March 16, which was then posted online, the Saskatchewan Health Authority shows how ICU numbers could rise if new public health measures are not put in place. (Submitted by Saskatchewan Health Authority)

The modeling also showed that the health system risks being overloaded and should be ready for an increase in cases. Hennink said it is troubling, but simply a model at this time.

Wong said hospitals are already seeing growth.

“This is different from anything we have seen so far and it would be a real shame if we did not respond properly with vaccines so close,” Wong said.

As of March 21, about 35,743 vaccines have been made in Regina and 139,827 in the province.

Variants that affect young people more than the original type

Hennink said people in the 20-39 age group are being affected by VCs, even more than they were with the original type.

“Our colleagues working at the ICU are also concerned because they are seeing patients who are sicker, younger and appear earlier in their disease outcomes,” he said. “It’s just something to worry about.”

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