Calls arise for continued enforcement of Sask. COVID-19 isolation requirement after PHO ends

The Saskatchewan government has changed up their messaging regarding COVID-19 self-isolation, now saying that individuals who test positive “may be required to self-isolate immediately.”

Public health officials in Alberta announced Wednesday they would no longer require self-isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19.

The Saskatchewan requirement was part of the public health order that ended on July 11.

Read more: Saskatchewan switching to weekly COVID-19 updates; active cases now over 400

During media interviews on Thursday morning, Health Minister Paul Merriman said it was up to individuals if they wanted to self-isolate.

During another interview on 980 CJME’s Gormley show, Merriman also said people need to adhere to guidelines.

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“If somebody does have COVID-19 and tests positive they need to adhere to the isolation and isolate for 14 days, no different than before,” Merriman said.

Later in the day, after requests for clarification, Merriman issued a statement.

“Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is directed to self-isolate immediately at home or in another suitable environment for at least 10 days. This direction has been and continues to be provided by public health officials to all individuals who test positive for COVID-19,” the statement read.

However, violations will only result in a fine if a medical health officer issues an order under the public health act.

The government website was also updated on Thursday to say people “may be required to self-isolate.”

A screen capture of the government’s website on Thursday afternoon.
A screen capture of the government’s website on Thursday afternoon. Screen Capture / Government of Saskatchewan

Earlier in the day, the instructions said people “must self-isolate.”

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A screen capture of the government’s website from Thursday morning. Screen Capture / Saskatchewan Government

The leader of the Opposition says he is frustrated and the government messaging needs to be clearer.

“If you have COVID-19, stay away from people for 14 days. It’s not a hard message to make clear. I’m disappointed in what I saw in Alberta, I certainly hope this gets clarified and clarified in the right direction in Saskatchewan,” Ryan Meili told reporters.

Regardless, epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine says the government should enforce self-isolation to keep everyone safe, even for fully vaccinated individuals.

“You still could be passing on the virus to somebody else. You could be passing it on to somebody who is not vaccinated, who is a child, who is elderly, who might be immunocompromised,” Muhajarine said.

Saskatchewan residents encouraged to keep COVID-19 health measures in mind, get vaccinated

Muhajarine, who is also the public health lead for CoVaRR Net, a group of Canadian experts advising the federal government on the threat of COVID-19, questions the messaging from top doctors and politicians.

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The government and our public health system should bear the responsibility and should exercise authority that they have to keep everyone safe rather than leaving it up to each individual person’s decision.”

Read more: Sask. government moves ahead with plan to develop 600 long-term care beds

Neither the health minister nor Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab was available for an interview on Thursday to provide any further clarification about self-isolation.

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