N.L. reports 10 new COVID-19 cases, imposes new restrictions in southwest
Published Wednesday, May 12, 2021 4:26PM ADT
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and announced new restrictions for an area of the province's southwest.
A school in the Codroy Valley, N.L., area is linked to at least three cases involving the B.1.1.7 variant, chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald told reporters, adding that all residents of that southwest region of the province should get tested whether or not they have symptoms.
She said officials are moving communities from South Branch, N.L., to Port aux Basques, N.L., to alert level 4 at 12 a.m. Thursday, under which gyms are closed, in-person dining is prohibited and gatherings are limited.
"While we do not have any evidence that there is widespread community transmission in the region, there has been clearly spread among contacts," Fitzgerald said.
At level 4, people are advised to stay home as much as possible except to get essentials like food and medications.
She said the new health order will allow officials to conduct mass testing, adding that the new restrictions will be reviewed in one week.
Premier Andrew Furey told reporters "the measures taken by Dr. Fitzgerald on the southwest coast are intended to help contain any potential spread."
Fitzgerald said over 200,000 people in the province have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Furey called that number encouraging and said he had booked his first dose earlier in the day, as anyone aged 40 and over is eligible to get vaccinated in the province.
On Friday, the province will expand eligibility to people 30 and older and as of Monday, May 17, the rest of the population 12 and over can book appointments. Health Minister John Haggie said he's confident the government will be able to offer a first dose of vaccine to all eligible residents by July 1.
Fitzgerald said because of the availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, the province will no longer be offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose to people 55 and older. The AstraZeneca shot has been linked to rare cases of blood clots.
Both Furey and Fitzgerald said most of the recent COVID-19 cases in Newfoundland and Labrador have been travel-related or involved close contacts of travellers.
As a result, the province is imposing new testing requirements for travellers, effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.
"A special measures order will be in effect requiring all travellers age five and older to be tested according to their self-isolation arrangements," Fitzgerald said.
Asymptomatic travellers who can isolate away from other people will be required to be tested near the end of the 14-day isolation period. Asymptomatic travellers who cannot fully isolate away from others are required to be tested twice during the 14 days.
Fitzgerald said the new testing protocol does not apply to essential workers and rotational workers coming from non-outbreak sites in Canada. It will also not apply to any traveller who is in the province for two days or less.
Newfoundland and Labrador has 81 active reported cases of COVID-19 and one person in hospital with the disease.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.