After almost 3 years of COVID, New Year’s Eve in Saskatchewan. will be a little different this year

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and while COVID is less of a concern than in recent years, with respiratory disease circulating, it’s still wise to assess your risks before venturing out to celebrate, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. (SHA) and an epidemiologist.

The SHA website offers questions to consider before heading to 2023.

Sick people should avoid gathering together, while those who are not sick should ask whether or not their vaccination status is up to date for flu and COVID-19 vaccines before leaving, he says.

The health authority has recommended that people also consider the vaccination status of those they will interact with.

« If they aren’t or you don’t know, you can take personal precautions to keep yourself and others safe, » the health authority page said.

The health authority has recommended washing or sanitizing hands to prevent the spread of germs and masking to reduce the spread of airborne diseases, although masking is at individual discretion and not mandatory .

A statement from the SHA noted that the elderly, people with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems, children under five and pregnant women are the categories most at risk of illness from the virus. COVID-19, RSV and influenza.

“At the end of December 2022, compared to the last two Decembers… we are in a different place, especially with COVID-19, in that at a population level, at a societal level, we have quite a bit of immunity among us “said epidemiologist Dr Nazeem Muhajarine on Thursday.

Current levels of public immunity, he said, come from contracting COVID-19 or the process of public vaccination.

Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist at the University of Saskatchewan, said masking and updating vaccines are two important steps people can take to protect themselves. (Submitted by University of Saskatchewan)

Gathering is OK, he said, as long as risk factors like those highlighted by the health authority are carefully considered.

Muhajarine said he was trying to make sure he and his family were up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. He also wears a good face mask when he’s indoors with groups of more than five or 10 people – a step he says helps protect him from any respiratory illnesses circulating at the moment.

“We are not talking about mandatory masking, I think [there’s] a very low appetite for this kind of mandate.… We are three years old, at our population level, we have a lot of immunity,” Muhajarine said.

“We know how to treat and manage COVID-19.…we are fundamentally in a different place as humans than where we were in 2020.”

Muhajarine said he would also cancel any plans he may have if he experiences flu-like or COVID-like symptoms, as suggested by the SHA.

Manageable but dangerous

Muhajarine noted that although immunity levels are drastically different and COVID is more manageable than it has ever been, the virus was still dangerous.

He said more people in Canada died of COVID in 2022 than the previous year, and in December alone three times as many people were hospitalized with the virus as in 2021.

He also pointed out that the long COVID can leave serious long-term impacts on patients.

« We still have to take care of ourselves because people are still losing their lives and ending up in hospitals and their lives are really disrupted by COVID-19, » Muhajarine said.


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