Sask. did not ask Ottawa to send military and healthcare workers to help fight COVID-19, says Moe

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his government has not asked the federal government to send military or healthcare workers to support the battle against COVID-19 in hospitals, but has discussed other areas of potential help.

On Monday, Moe spoke with a Saskatoon-based radio show and said COVID-19-related hospitalizations and intensive care admissions more than doubled from September 1 to 26.

“The pressure is very real. The pressure is pretty extreme,” Moe said.

He said more than 80% of intensive care patients are not vaccinated and they come from the 30% of the eligible population who are not fully vaccinated.

“If you don’t believe in science, it’s math.”

Moe said he wouldn’t rule out seeking help if there was no indication of a spike in cases.

Moe’s comments were confirmed in a letter written by Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman and obtained by CBC News on Monday evening.

The letter Merriman wrote to his federal counterpart sets out some of the issues he would like the federal government to help:

  • Increase immunization in regions of the province, including indigenous communities.
  • Increased access to rapid self-tests and make them free.
  • Financial support and accelerated deployment of monoclonal antibody therapy for hospitalized COVID patients.

Three types of monoclonal antibody therapy have been approved for use in Canada: bamlanivimab, sotrovimab, and the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab.

In Monday’s interview, Moe said monoclonal treatments are “expensive” and “not a substitute for a vaccination.”

Federal Minister offers help

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu in a tweet on Friday confirmed that she spoke to Merriman and “made sure he knew the federal government would be there to help the people of Saskatchewan in this matter. health crisis. We are ready to help wherever we are needed. “

Hajdu told CBC News on Sunday that Saskatchewan has yet to formally request federal assistance, but that “we’ll be ready as soon as they trigger that request.”

The federal government is helping Alberta after the province makes a formal request. It will help overhead lift patients, intensive care registered nurses and respiratory therapists.

Saskatchewan set a new record for active cases, new cases and hospitalizations on Sunday. On Monday, the province reported 289 hospitalizations, another all-time high.

Saskatchewan reported 552 new cases on Sunday, while Ontario – with about 13.5 million more people – reported 653.

Saskatchewan and Alberta were the hardest hit by wave four. The death rates in the two provinces are about four times that of the rest of Canada.

Rapid tests

As for rapid tests, the federal government already offers free rapid antigen testing for small and medium-sized businesses in Saskatchewan.

Two weeks ago, Moe said the province had obtained a million rapid antigenic tests from the federal government.

According to federal government records, Saskatchewan received 3,731,392 rapid antigenic tests. It sent 3,102,308 tests to their final point of service. Only 618,260 of the more than 3.7 million tests received (16.5%) were reported used to Health Canada.

But Merriman’s letter details a request to the federal government for “expedited approval” of “off-label” rapid tests.

These off-label tests cannot currently be provided by pharmacies to the general public.

This is something Merriman says he hopes will be resolved as the province seeks to speed up provincial testing.

“Health Canada’s approval of these options would aid our efforts to ensure that the tests are readily available to the general public,” wrote the Minister of Health.

Boost vaccinations

Last week, Moe criticized the federal government for not doing more to vaccinate First Nations people.

“Our Far North and our Indigenous communities have an immunization rate of less than 50% – an area of ​​exclusive federal jurisdiction,” Moe tweeted. “I hope … [Trudeau] will work with Saskatchewan to immediately increase the immunization rate in these critical communities. “

Federal Native Affairs Minister Marc Miller called Moe’s comments “alarming and unproductive.” In an online response, Miller said Moe had “a poor understanding of his own health care system and the role it plays” in northern Saskatchewan.

The far north regions of the province are inferior to the rest of the province in the percentage of eligible people who are fully vaccinated.

The far north of the center has 44% fully vaccinated, the far northwest is 49% and the far northeast is 54%. The provincial average is 72 percent.

WATCH | What is happening in hospitals in Saskatchewan and Alberta:

What is happening in Alberta, Saskatchewan. hospitals

Two infectious disease physicians discuss with Ian Hanomansing the situation in hospitals in Alberta and Saskatchewan and what provinces need to do to bring their COVID-19 outbreaks under control. 5:35

Merriman’s letter briefly mentions a federal government suggestion that Canadian Rangers and members of Indigenous communities could use mobile clinics in remote communities.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have the lowest percentage of eligible people vaccinated in Canada. Both provinces have seen increases in first and second dose absorption since announcing vaccination policies less than two weeks ago.

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