P.E.I. reports two new COVID-19 cases, shares further vaccine plans
HALIFAX -- P.E.I. health officials reported two new COVID-19 cases, and shared details about vaccine plans stretching into this summer in a media conference Tuesday afternoon.
The two new cases involve a female under the age of 19, who was diagnosed during routine testing, and a male under 19, which is under investigation, but may be related to regional travel, according to Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief health officer.
P.E.I. now has eight active cases, all of which were reported in the last week. There have been 152 total COVID-19 cases on the island since the pandemic began.
Dr. Morrison says she’s happy the new cases were identified early.
"There’s no evidence of widespread community spread," said Morrison. "Had these cases gone undetected for even another day or two, I think we would be dealing with a very different situation, as the virus would have had more opportunity to spread."
Morrison says the past week’s new cases are different, as up to 72 per cent of their close contacts are children.
"Meaning that in almost every case, a parent is required to self-isolate with their child – so really, there’s many more in isolation," she said.
Morrison added that in some of these cases, patients had tested negative once, then later positive. She says this highlights the need for regular testing, even with mild symptoms.
As of Saturday, P.E.I. has administered 18,632 doses of vaccine – including 5,622 second doses.
"I think we can be very proud of the vaccine rollout to date," said Morrison. "We are administering vaccine to islanders as we receive doses in the province, and we are targeting vaccine to certain groups."
Morrison says her department’s goal is to continue to protect the most vulnerable. She adds that 80 per cent of islanders over the age of 80 have received at least one dose.
Starting this week, people over 70 can start making appointments to be vaccinated.
Then, on Thursday, people in their 60s with certain underlying conditions will have their turn.
According to Morrison, those conditions include:
- People who have had organ transplants
- Those with specific types of cancers
- Cystic fibrosis
- People who use immunosuppressive medications
- Those who are on dialysis
- People living with developmental disabilities – including Down syndrome.
Caregivers of those in the above groups are also eligible for a vaccine at this stage in the province’s rollout.
Morrison says most of the 2,000 doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine received on the island have been administered to people 18-29 working in the service industry. Those have been delivered through six pharmacy partners.
"I ask employers and business owners in these areas to encourage their staff age 18-29 to be immunized," said Morrison. "And, if possible, please offer to assist with transportation and eliminating any other barriers that may be preventing staff from being vaccinated."
Morrison said effective Tuesday, the province is expanding eligibility for those in the 18-29 group to include anyone who cannot work virtually. This includes anyone whose job includes interacting face-to-face with the public.
She also reaffirmed Health Canada’s stance on the Astrazeneca vaccine, saying it is safe and effective, and encouraging any islanders who are offered it, to take it.
While the island has no immediate plans to re-enter the Atlantic Bubble, Morrison said they will continue to monitor the situation. She added that when the time does come to re-enter, she hopes it will be permanent.