Tue. May 17th, 2022

Saskatchewan is recruiting former police officers to help enforce COVID-19 public health rules and is also planning a “safe isolation spot” in North Battleford, according to an official from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

SHA hosted its most recent COVID-19 medical town hall on Thursday. The forum twice a week aims to allow doctors to share information and advice with each other, but it also contains a wealth of up-to-date information on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 epidemiology and the health sector’s efforts to curb the disease.

City Hall – whose admission is typically posted online on Fridays – is also an opportunity for doctors to present their own advice to the public in Saskatchewan, including a plea from Thursday City Hall that people should limit their contacts to a household during Thanksgiving weekend .

“We’re really worried that Thanksgiving … is really going to be another very bad accelerator to an already bad situation,” said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, a health worker at the Saskatchewan Health Authority, added that the province is already deep inside its fourth wave.

During its presentation, Opondo also shared news about the province’s offensive strategy against COVID-19.

An enforcement team is set up by the health ministry to help public health inspectors regulate “masking non-compliance with complaints” and “complaints about non-compliance with vaccinations from companies or the public,” Opondo said.

The team is “a group of retired police officers who really want to help us, especially where we are lacking in terms of public health inspectors,” he said.

Dr. Opondo shared this slide, which refers to COVID-19 enforcement, during a Saskatchewan Health Authority town hall Thursday night. (Saskatchewan Health Authority)

Under recently adopted public health orders in response to the fourth wave, Saskatchewan residents must wear a mask in all public places. They must also show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test if they want to gain access to some non-essential companies or venues.

The province also recently brought back the requirement that infected people be isolated for 10 days. Close contacts that have not been vaccinated should be isolated for 14 days.

Online complaint form

Opondo also noted that the province has a website where people can fill out a form to inform officials about people who allegedly do not follow public health orders.

In addition to the enforcement team, the health authority is also preparing a “safe isolation site” at Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford, Opondo said.

CBC News has contacted the Department of Health, the Department of Health and the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency — as it was announced this week — will jointly direct the province’s COVID-19 response through the Provincial Emergency Operations Center — for more information about this site and its intended purpose.

Such a place has worked before in North Battleford, though in an undisclosed location. CBC News previously reported that people who had been detained for not following isolation orders in Saskatoon had been sent to the facility in North Battleford.

Opondo said it will take one to three weeks to get the new site set up and fully staffed.

“Once they are ready to receive clients, we will work the same way we did during the third wave,” Opondo said.

“Public health inspectors and police, once the medical health officer has signed the form of safe isolation, will be involved in helping to transport and relocate people to the safe place of isolation.”

A slide presented during his remarks said, “We will work with police forces to be involved in serving any detention order.”

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