With at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Meadow Lake, residents are being asked to take extra precautions when it comes to keeping themselves and others healthy and safe.

“Cases are encroaching Meadow Lake and people have to increase vigilance in public spaces,” remarked a local health official who asked not be identified by name.

Yesterday (May 6), the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed Meadow Lake’s second positive case of the virus, this time involving a staff member at the Meadow Lake Hospital.

“This case at the hospital was linked to community-transmission,” states an SHA press release. “To date, no patients have presented symptoms of COVID-19.”

As a result, however, Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, northern medical health officer, declared an outbreak at the hospital the evening of Tuesday, May 5.

“The COVID-19 positive staff member and close contacts to the confirmed case are on self-isolation and additional contact tracing is underway,” the SHA release continues. “For every single positive case of COVID-19, Public Health interviews the case to determine with whom they have had contact during their infectious period.”

Meanwhile, Meadow Lake’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced Saturday (May 2) by the Meadow Lake Co-op when general manager Caralee Strome – in a letter to Co-op members and customers – said an employee at the Co-op Service Centre tested positive.

“The employee reported symptoms and entered self-isolation early last week and sought COVID-19 testing shortly thereafter,” Strome noted in the letter. “When we learned the employee had received confirmation of COVID-19 this weekend, we temporarily shut down the Service Centre as we deep cleaned and sanitized the location. We also asked other team members who may have had contact with this individual to also self-isolate.”

The efforts of the Co-op were applauded by Meadow Lake mayor Merlin Seymour.

“The Meadow Lake Co-op and the team member have handled this in a very open and professional way,” Seymour said.

According to Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, when news of the community’s first COVID-19 case broke, rumours began to circulate about Meadow Lake not being able to take part in Phase 1 of the Reopen Saskatchewan plan.

“Those rumours are not true,” Harrison told Northern Pride when contacted Sunday. “Phase 1 will proceed (on May 4), but the Government of Saskatchewan will continue to review and monitor circumstances. In consultation with the chief medical health officer, we will make modifications to Reopen Saskatchewan as necessary.”

Meanwhile, Seymour said everyone must adhere to the pandemic rules set forth.

“If you need to go out for essentials, follow and maintain the social distancing rules,” he said. “If you or someone you know is showing symptoms, call the 811 HealthLine. If you don’t need to go out, stay home or go for a walk while maintaining social distancing.”

This was echoed by the aforementioned SHA representative.

“Despite our best efforts, there are still people not respecting social distancing or curbing gatherings,” the local health official noted. “We ask, if people have any symptoms of suspicion such as a cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, severe muscle pain or sore throat issues, they call 811 and then go to the assessment centre at the Meadow Lake Civic Centre for testing. We are also doing contact tracing with all positive people from surrounding areas and informing contacts right away to protect others.”

As for the situation involving the Meadow Lake Hospital, the SHA has indicated key emergency department, emergency surgical and obstetrical services remain available.

by Phil Ambroziak