'A similar trend': Moose Jaw's growing COVID-19 cases following Regina

A Moose Jaw doctor is asking residents to take the recent increase in COVID-19 variant cases in the city seriously.

Two weeks ago, Moose Jaw and the South Central zone had 19 active cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the area is sitting at 128, which is the most active cases the zone has seen during the pandemic.

"When Regina started to see their sudden increase in numbers, we started to see a similar trend here in Moose Jaw," Dr. Brad Thorpe, a family physician in Moose Jaw, told CTV News.

Regina’s hospitals have been operating at capacity with COVID-19 patients for the past week and it’s a similar situation at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital in Moose Jaw.

Dr. Thorpe said they’ve seen the number of COVID-19 patients jump from one to six over the last week.

"That starts to get scary because we don’t have massive intensive cares and we don’t have massive wards like Regina and Saskatoon," he said. "We have a four or five bed intensive care unit, so it doesn’t take very long for that to become overburdened."

The goal of public health measures is to ease strain on the health system.

During Tuesday’s provincial COVID-19 update, Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab didn’t rule out stronger restrictions for Moose Jaw if case numbers continue to grow.

On Wednesday, NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the government should be proactive instead of reactive in combating in the virus.

"Moose Jaw’s already at the point that Regina was at when [Moe] brought in restrictions there and he said we’re not going to do anything. It’s dangerous and it’s stupid," Meili said.

Moe is confident the province’s robust vaccine program can win the fight against the variants.

"The way through this is vaccines, the way through this is not to increase public health measures," Moe said. "We have significant public health measures in place, we’re asking people to be extra diligent over the course of the next number of weeks."

Meili said Saskatchewan is losing the race between variants and vaccines.

Dr. Thorpe agreed, saying vaccines are a long-term solution and not the answer now.

"Looking to vaccines as a quick fix and a quick solution right now to the variants of concern really doesn’t help because the effects of these vaccines are only going to be seen a month from now," he said.

With a long weekend approaching, Dr. Thorpe is urging residents to take extra precautions to slow the spread including reducing close contacts, avoiding in-person dining, wearing a mask when in public and limiting travel.