Saskatchewan has reported its first two deaths as a direct result of COVID-19 along with an uptick in new cases.
The two people, both in their 70s, were located in different parts of the province. One person's case was related to travel. The identities and locations of the people have not been released.
"This is a sad milestone in our fight against COVID-19," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer for the province of Saskatchewan in the March 30 announcement.
"It's certainly very sad, but it is not unexpected. It's been three weeks or more since we started reporting cases in Saskatchewan. We have to remember, while it's very unfortunate that in some cases, we have had deaths, we have to look at the fact we now have 14 people recovered as well."
Along with the announcement of the two deaths, another 20 new positive cases were reported across the province, bringing the total number of cases to 176. Five people remain hospitalized in Saskatchewan as a result of COVID-19, including one person in Regina who is in intensive care.
Six more people are reported to have recovered from the disease, making it 14 total people in Saskatchewan to have survived to date.
The number of cases within the far north region of the province, which includes Creighton, Denare Beach, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay, Deschambault Lake and other communities near Flin Flon, remains at three. No known COVID-19 cases have been found in any communities near Flin Flon in Saskatchewan.
In total, 37 cases have been reported in the area designated by the province as "north", several of which have been linked to a snowmobile rally and dinner in Christopher Lake north of Prince Albert. One person in the north has been hospitalized due to the disease.
Premier Scott Moe made an appearance at the briefing, taking questions and speaking to the press. Moe has notably been absent from most of the province's briefings to date.
"I'd like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and the friends of two Saskatchewan residents who have now lost their lives due to COVID-19. I am so sorry for your loss. The thoughts of all Saskatchewan people are with you at this time," said the Premier.
Moe advised the public to continue to self-isolate, to wash hands regularly and that the government is increasing efforts in contact tracing.
"I know this has been a very stressful time for all of us in Saskatchewan," Moe said.
"I would say that in addition to our physical health, we all have to make extra efforts to look after our mental health as well."