Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health breaks into tears during COVID-19 modelling

Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health broke into tears in the midst of a COVID-19 modelling presentation over teleconference Wednesday.

Dr. Saqib Shahab teared up while reflecting on the province’s overloaded hospitals and intensive care units.

“It’s distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs and hospitals and I’m sorry,” he said in a press conference over the phone. “It’s a very challenging time.”

At its current rate, Saskatchewan’s ICUs won’t see a return to sustainable levels for several months unless new public health orders are issued, Shahab said. According to the modelling, the province may see ICU numbers surpassing 250 in the early months of the new year if things continue as they are.

According to the data, unvaccinated people are 28 times more likely to enter the ICU.

“I have no shame in pleading to the public that we’ve gone so far and we just have to pull along for the next few weeks or months,” he said.

More than 275 services, including all elective surgeries, have been cut to free up health-care workers to care for COVID-19 patients during the province’s latest wave. Shahab said previously that services are unlikely to continue unless ICU numbers become sustainable.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe apologized to those left without health care on CBC’s The Morning Edition radio show Tuesday.

Saskatchewan has asked other provinces, the federal government and several states in the U.S. for ICU staff to support their hospitals.

On Monday, health officials said six Saskatchewan ICU patients were being sent to Ontario for care. As of Tuesday, a total of three patients have been sent for out-of-province care.

In its latest update Wednesday, Saskatchewan tallied 246 new cases and five new deaths. 323 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 82 in the ICU.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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