Saskatchewan to scrap COVID-19 dashboard, end daily updates next week – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Starting Monday, the province will end the daily online updates of COVID-19 numbers and replace them with a weekly update.
Starting Monday, the province of Saskatchewan will end its practice of providing daily updates on COVID-19 numbers after nearly two years.
The surprising change was announced at an online news conference on Thursday as Premier Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government suggests all measures intended to limit the pandemic’s spread could end soon.
The end to daily reporting comes as the province reaches its highest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19, with 384, and passes a milestone with 1,001 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
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The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, told an online news conference that the switch to weekly reports reflects how the province handles other respiratory diseases.
“I think this is going to be a significant change, but again it’s similar to what many other jurisdictions have done or are planning,” Shahab said. He did not provide any examples of jurisdictions that have made this change.
All other provinces in Canada appear to be providing daily updates.
According to a news release from the province, the weekly update will include new COVID-19 cases confirmed by a laboratory, deaths, tests and vaccination numbers. The release did not mention hospitalization data and ICU admissions.
In April, reports will only be provided on a monthly basis. In the fall, when respiratory viruses increase, weekly reports will resume, Shahab said.
People will need to make decisions about their personal level of risk with an understanding of what’s happening at the community level, Shahab added. He failed to explain how that will be possible without frequent updates of information.
Last month, Shahab warned people to cease all gatherings to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, but Saskatchewan remains the only province that failed to introduce any measures to address the fifth wave.
NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili acknowledged the daily case counts depict a less reliable picture of the scope of the pandemic, but said other metrics that have been regularly provided are still vital.
Test positivity still provides an important method to measure the pandemic, Meili said, adding that daily hospitalizations, ICU admissions and death counts remain relevant.
“Saskatchewan people deserve as much information as we can give them,” he said. “We need to trust them with the facts.
“That’s how we make sure that the truth is able to out-compete the lies and misinformation that is spreading.”
Meili said any suggestion from the government that the daily case counts no longer reflect the pandemic’s scope is a “bit rich,” since the province’s moves to restrict PCR tests make the data less accurate.
The province announced Thursday that PCR tests will be limited to people at high risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19.
The lack of information will place teachers, parents and health-care workers at greater risk and make it difficult for people to make decisions about their safety, Meili said.
“This isn’t about coming to a more sensible approach, this is about hiding the information from the public.”
Outbreaks at long-term care and personal care homes will continue to be reported on the province’s website.
ptank@postmedia.com
twitter.com/thinktankSK
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