Saskatchewan working on new system to address spike in calls to HealthLine

The province is taking additional measures to address the “sudden spike” in calls to Saskatchewan’s health line due to COVID-19.

In partnership with Saskatchewan Health Authority Digital Health, eHealth and SaskTel, the government is working to transition the HeathLine 811 to a new system.

Calls to the health line average about 250 per day. Since last week, call volume has jumped to at least four times that.

The new system would see an increase in call lines to more than 500, allowing a callback feature so callers won’t need to wait on the line, but keep their place in the queue.

It will also give HealthLine 811 the capability of distributing workers across Saskatchewan, allowing for increased staff if needed.

Staffing has already increased from about a dozen to more than 30. Work is also being done to provide 24/7 enhanced coverage with additional health-care staff on hand.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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