'This is a crisis': Sask. NDP calls for action in wake of COVID-19 flare-up in north

Saskatchewan's official opposition is calling for more action in the province's north as Hatchet Lake Dene Nation grapples with an outbreak linked to 109 cases as of Tuesday.

“This is a crisis, and this government needs to act. Long-standing housing and infrastructure shortages in the community are making the problem worse,” said NDP northern affairs critic Doyle Vermette said in a news release.

The party says it is concerned that 20 per cent of cases are thought to be related to the Delta variant strain of COVID-19.

The NDP called on the Sask. Party government to take steps such as deploying mobile vaccination teams, work with leaders to increase vaccination rates in the north and "address the looming crisis around lack of patients isolation space and potential need for ventilators."

The NDP also wants rapid testing capacity in the north to better understand the scope of the COVID-19 spread.

In a press conference Wednesday, Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the SHA has offered help to local First Nations health teams.

He said contact tracing and isolation of cases in close contact are well underway, the SHA has activated surge capacity and additional staff have been mobilized from both the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

"There's also a community door-to-door approach for vaccination and NITHA has, as I understand it, shipped more vaccines up north to accommodate that. Lots of support from local leadership. Chief and Council have announced that all community members need to cooperate and support actions of public health and medical teams. I also know that the Prince Albert Grand Council Vice Chief has addressed the community directly and talked about measures.

"So there's lots of things going on. We're monitoring the situation and we'll provide whatever support and resources that our partners at NITHA and ISC need."