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Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer in Saskatchewan, speaks at a COVID-19 news update at the legislative building in Regina on March 18, 2020.Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says the province is considering whether to lift some COVID-19 measures but emphasized that booster shots will remain critical in reducing serious illness and preserving the health-care system.

Dr. Saqib Shahab said conversations are ongoing with the Saskatchewan Party government about which public health orders will be needed as society learns to live with the virus.

He said there needs to be a long-term plan as the pandemic will soon enter its third year in Canada. The World Health Organization declared the pandemic on March 11, 2019.

Saskatchewan pivoting from COVID-19 restrictions to learning to live with the virus

“As we see our cases crest and come down, Saskatchewan, just like many other jurisdictions, will have to see what is the optimum way to navigate out from this,” Shahab said Wednesday.

“We have to change our policies and orders to adjust for our changing realities.”

Premier Scott Moe told the John Gormley radio show Wednesday that some restrictions have run their course and his government’s goal is to remove all restrictions when it is able to.

Moe declined to provide any details but more information is expected in the coming days.

The province’s current public health orders include a mask mandate, a requirement to self isolate for five days after testing positive for COVID-19 and proof of vaccination or a negative test to get into most establishments.

The public health orders are in place until the end of February.

Shahab said booster shots are key to limiting the effects of the pandemic.

Data from the Saskatchewan government shows 47 per cent of eligible adults have received their booster shot, a figure which Shahab said is beginning to lag.

“There has been data from throughout Canada that shows the benefit of boosters in terms of preventing hospitalizations and death, even with Omicron, which is more transmissible, but less severe (than Delta),” he said.

Earlier this week, Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist at Cite-de-la-Sante in Laval, Que., said the hospital he works at has yet to see someone with three doses of vaccine being hospitalized in its ICU.

This includes people who have chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, he said.

“Vaccines remain something that may not protect you from testing positive, but it will definitely protect you towards requiring ICU care,” Dahine said in an interview.

Dahine said he often hears complaints from people who don’t want a third shot but added they would not make such comments if it was a pill.

Saskatchewan reported 315 people in hospital with COVID-19 Wednesday, including 33 in intensive care. The province had a test positivity rate of 33 per cent.

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