Essential worker who travelled outside Canada is the latest COVID-19 case on P.E.I.
CHARLOTTETOWN -- Another essential worker has tested positive for COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island.
Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Heather Morrison, said Tuesday the man in his 30s is not a health-care worker, but she did not disclose the nature of his job. She said he recently returned from international travel and is recovering while self-isolating at home.
"The new case of COVID-19 is not related to the cluster we reported last week," Morrison told reporters. "And it is not related to the cases at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that we announced yesterday."
The two cases at the hospital in Charlottetown involve a health-care worker as well as a patient in the emergency department. More than 100 patients and 125 staff were identified through contact-tracing, and Morrison said all tests have so far come back negative.
She said some people who had been in contact with the health-care worker in the last few days may be tested a second time. Public health officials, Morrison added, have decided to increase COVID-19 testing for all health-care workers who have travelled outside Atlantic Canada.
"We're going to introduce increased testing," she said. "So not just a negative test before they start to work if they've come in from outside the bubble, but testing at zero, three and seven days going forth."
Morrison faced a lot of questions Tuesday about the policy that allows essential workers to avoid self-isolating for 14 days after travel outside the region.
She said the policy is common across the country in order to allow for adequate staffing of essential services. Essential employees are required to "work-isolate," she said, meaning they must travel directly home after their shift and monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.
"Since the onset of the pandemic," Morrison said, "thousands of essential workers, including health-care workers, have entered Prince Edward Island and these workers range from health care to construction and manufacturing, to aerospace, to specialized equipment repair and maintenance workers."
There are now nine active cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island. That brings the provincial total to 36 cases, 27 of which are considered recovered.
On Monday, Morrison said she thought it would be premature to consider loosening border restrictions on travel beyond the Atlantic bubble. Canadians living in Atlantic Canada are currently permitted to travel within the region without self-isolating.
Premier Dennis King said Tuesday he's comfortable restricting open travel to the four Atlantic Provinces.
"We remain very concerned about the Canadian-U.S. border. That will be extended to Aug. 21, I believe," King said, referring to the temporary border closure between Canada and the United States.
"At this point, I would say, like my colleague -- the premier of Newfoundland, Premier Ball -- that I don't think we would be actively looking beyond the Atlantic bubble anytime soon."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.
-- By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.