Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer addresses emails with health minister

Saskatchewan’s top doctor sat down with Global News to talk about the emails he had sent to the province’s Health Minister Paul Merriman in early September 2022 warning him to put in COVID-19 restrictions, or else acute care would collapse.

Dr. Saqib Shahab said they were learning how the Delta variant differed from other versions of the virus by watching what was happening in other provinces and the United States.

Read more: Saskatchewan government emails warned of health-care collapse ahead of COVID patient transfer

“The priority was to increase vaccination rates,” Shahab said.

He said vaccination rates had stalled around 70 per cent over the summer.

Shahab said the situation was very different from 2020, adding that public health orders were much stricter at the beginning.

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When asked if he felt like the health minister was listening to him, Shahab said there was regular communication.

Read more: Mask restrictions lifted at Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities

“There was always regular communication from myself and my team within the Ministry of Health, and then the executive council and the minister’s office, so that is ongoing,” Shahab said.

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“I think in hindsight you can look at things, and the response, but in real time I think we had to process a lot of information and provide our best case assessment, and what we thought would be an appropriate response.”

He said the most frustrating thing for him was when the province had a lot of vaccines for people, but the uptake was low.

“We were seeing Delta waves in other parts of the world where they hadn’t even received enough vaccines to start vaccinating middle-aged adults, and they were seeing great pressures there.”

He said the vaccination rate did go up a bit, but the remainder left the population vulnerable.

“The fully vaccinated were well protected. People who were unvaccinated, many came forward, and many still did not come forward.”

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He said there was so much misinformation out there, which he said was difficult to deal with.

– with files from Nathaniel Dove

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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