Yesterday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced still more restrictions to its long term-term care homes and other facilities, limiting visitors to essential visitors only, and defining essential visitors as "immediate family only during compassionate reasons".

For all intents and purposes, SHA operated care homes are now all but closed to the public.

It's only the latest in an ever hardening response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is making its way into the province. And it has led to questions about the SHA's response to the virus and its preparedness planning.

In response, the SHA held a press conference with three representatives: Derek Miller, the current site command lead for the SHA's Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, SHA senior medical health officer, and Dr. Susan Shaw, chief medical officer.

Together, they attempted to explain the process that they have been following since the first appearance of COVID-19.

Dr. Shaw explained that long before the emergence of COVID-19, the province and the SHA had actively and routinely been outlining and planning what they would do in a pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic situation. With the arrival of COVID-19, those hypothetical plans became real very quickly, and having that pre-planning has helped them to adapt as efficiently as possible to the actual events now taking place.

She said that unlike previous viruses, such as H1N1 in 2009 and Ebola in 2014, this time they have the benefit of a single health authority in the province.

"(It's given us) a more effective way to coordinate and manage a response across our system given the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of this pandemic, allowing us to respond in real-time to what is unfolding with COVID-19, shifting supplies and resources where we need it and when we need it."

In short, no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy, but having a battle plan is still imperative as it is helping them to get ahead of flattening the curve before the full brunt of the virus strikes the province.

To flatten that curve, they are taking a three-pronged approach: Containment, Delay and Mitigation; Detect cases as early as possible, increase efforts at self-isolation and visitor restrictions, and educate both health system staff and the public on how to prevent the virus' spread.

Flattening that curve is imperative, as the danger of COVID-19 is as much about overloading the healthcare system as it is about the virus itself.

As Dr. Kryzanowski explained:

"Because there is no vaccine and no specific treatment, everyone is at some risk. To manage our healthcare resources, we must act now to reduce community transmission and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”