Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer breaks down in tears over COVID deaths

Dr. tears up over deaths

As he described the current situation in Saskatchewan's hospitals and intensive care units during a teleconference on COVID-19 modelling Wednesday, the province's chief medical health officer broke down in tears.

An emotional Dr. Saqib Shahab said it's upsetting to see very young, unvaccinated people ending up in ICU and dying.

"All the evidence is out there. To see young lives lost through a vaccine-preventable disease – how can we see this in a country where we've had vaccines available since July?''

Saskatchewan continues to have the highest weekly death rate among the provinces and has started transferring patients to Ontario as hospitals run out of beds and staff. Modelling based on current data shows hospitalizations continuing to increase until December unless restrictions like a limit on gathering sizes are reintroduced.

Calling it a challenging time, Shahab said Saskatchewan could have more than 225 intensive care admissions by January and health care might not return to sustainable levels until next March, meaning surgeries, the province's organ donation program, and therapies for children wouldn't be available until then.

He later apologized for not being professional, although his colleagues were quick to offer support.

"Hearing Dr. Shahab break down today ... led me to break down, too, in the privacy of my office," tweeted Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician and clinician-researcher with the health authority.

A spokesperson for the premier's office issued a statement that said: "Premier (Scott) Moe continues to hold the highest regard for Dr. Shahab and the tireless work he continues to do for the people of Saskatchewan."

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