P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, loosens visits to long-term care homes
HALIFAX -- Health officials on Prince Edward Island are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
In a media conference, P.E.I. Chief Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison said all three are close contacts of previously reported cases.
Two cases are people under 19, while the other is in their 40s. Morrison says all of these people are self-isolating.
The province currently has 14 active cases, and has had 159 since the start of the pandemic. There have been no deaths, and nobody is presently in hospital on the island with COVID-19.
P.E.I. has reported 27 new cases so far in the month of March, the highest amount of new cases in an individual month, passing 21 new cases reported in both February 2021 and March 2020.
P.E.I. was the first province to pause AstraZeneca doses on Monday, first for those 18-29, and the all adults under 55. This came ahead of public recommendations issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.
Morrison said there is no word on when AstraZeneca vaccinations will resume on P.E.I.
"Given we have an adequate supply of MRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) to support our vaccine rollout plan, we will monitor and review the evidence before deciding how the AstraZeneca vaccine will be deployed in our province," said Morrison.
As of Saturday, 21,712 doses of vaccine were administered to islanders, which includes 6,406 second doses.
In Tuesday’s conference, Morrison said P.E.I.’s public clinics are only using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines until further notice.
"While we are on the home stretch, the next few months will not be easy," said Morrison. "Now, more than ever, we need to be patient, understanding, respectful, and considerate."
Morrison added that the province is still on track to vaccinate all islanders with at least one dose by the end of June, and with two doses by the fall season.
She adds that while the NACI’s concern with the AstraZeneca vaccine was over health complications tracked in Europe with the vaccine, there have not been any cases of VIPID linked to the drug in Canada.
This week, those 65-69 can book appointments to be vaccinated on the island, as well as those over 60 with eligible underlying medical conditions.
The head of nursing in Prince Edward Island says some residents cancelled their vaccination appointments today after the province suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine because of safety concerns.
Marion Dowling says residents should know only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being administered in the province and that they are safe.
The Island had been administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 18-29 but stopped because of advice from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Morrison says the province has an adequate supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to support the vaccine rollout. She says officials will review studies on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is linked to rare cases of blood clots.
ATLANTIC BUBBLE DECISON TO BE MADE APRIL 19
During Tuesday’s news update, Dr. Heather Morrison said they are still planning to reopen the Atlantic bubble, but that decision will be made on April 19.
"Certainly, we are planning to reopen the bubble and that that will be a decision for the Premier's by April 19 provided the COVID-19 count case counts remain low in the region, and outbreaks are contained," said Morrison.
She said that she expects that bubble to function much like the previous iteration of the Atlantic bubble which lasted from July 3 to Nov. 26.
"When the Atlantic bubble reopens, residents living in other Atlantic provinces will be required to complete a declaration form prior to traveling to P.E.I.," said Morrison. "Island residents who travel within the bubble will not be required to submit a declaration, when returning home, but again, like last year, P.E.I. residents will undergo a general COVID screening at the point of entry"
EASED RESTRICTIONS FOR LONG-TERM CARE VISITATION
Depending on the rates of community transmission, Morrison says visits to long-term care homes will loosen on April 1 in the following ways:
- Designated visitors can visit in designated areas or in the resident’s room.
- Residents can attend church services in a community setting, in the company of a partner in care or designated visitor.
- Long-term care and community care facilities can resume church service for residents and partners in care following the worship service guidance on the province’s website
Also scheduled to change: the isolation and testing requirements of rotational workers in P.E.I.
Morrison says those who fit into this category will be contacted directly by public health with changes.