P.E.I. tightens COVID-19 restrictions to slow spread of Omicron variant, returns to single-household gatherings
Prince Edward Island health officials will be enforcing tighter COVID-19 restrictions as a way to try and slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
"This Omicron needs to be slowed as much as possible to preserve our health-care system," said Premier Dennis King, during a live news conference on Tuesday. "We hoped the restrictions we had in place were enough to slow things down but it does not seem to be losing steam, Omicron."
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, says the province's COVID-19 numbers are going in the wrong direction and they are facing a serious situation.
"We've all been doing our best to contain the spread of COVID-19, and while it is working, and I believe our current measures have helped slow the spread, we are experiencing trends that are very concerning," said Morrison
Effective at midnight on Tuesday, Morrison says the following additional restrictions will be enforced and will remain in effect until Jan. 31:
- Personal gatherings will be limited to a single-household, with up to two other support persons where needed. People who live alone can join another household.
- Single-households can participate in outdoor activities, such as skiing, skating or hiking.
- Organized sports are not permitted.
- Funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people, plus the officiant.
- Gyms, group fitness classes, and all indoor recreational facilities must close.
- Restaurants are limited to take-out, drive-thru, and delivery services only. No indoor dining is permitted.
- Retail stores will remain at 50 per cent capacity with physical distancing.
- Isolation measures will remain at four days after coming into P.E.I., with testing.
New visitation guidelines are also being introduced at long-term care facilities.
- in facilities with no outbreaks, residents can have three partners-in-care visit
- in facilities with an outbreak, residents can have one partner-in-care visit
Long-term care home residents are also not permitted to go on community visits, unless it is essential, like a medical appointment.
Public and private schools across the island will continue remote learning until Jan. 31. Morrison says a discussion is scheduled with those in the early learning sector on Tuesday to discuss additional safety measures for that industry.
"If we see positive indications that our trends are going in the right direction... we will ease some of these measures, even before Jan. 31," Morrison said.
HOSPITALIZATIONS AND CASES
Hospitalizations on P.E.I. have increased since Monday, with eight people in hospital being treated for COVID-19 on Tuesday, four of whom are in intensive care.
According to the province's top doctor, three additional people are also in hospital and are positive for COVID-19, but are being treated primarily for illnesses other than the virus.
Morrison also reported 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, along with 129 recoveries, bringing the total number of active infections to 2,214.
Over the last week, she says there has been an average of 231 new cases per day.
To date, P.E.I. has reported 4,808 positive COVID-19 cases.
As of Saturday, Jan. 15, 96 per cent of eligible Island residents age 12 years and over have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 92.7 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.
The province said 57.9 per cent of children age five to 11 years have received their first dose.
Over 38,500 Island residents have received their third COVID-19 dose.
Morrison also says approximately 23,500 Islanders are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster, but have not yet booked an appointment.
"This is too many people at risk of needing hospital care," said Morrison. "Getting a booster helps to protect you and your family."
NEW FACILITY-BASED OUTBREAKS
Morrison says there are also three additional facility-based outbreaks being investigated by public health.
Those outbreaks are at:
- the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility in Mount Herbert
- the Bevan Lodge community care facility in Charlottetown
- the Andrews of Park West community care facility in Charlottetown
No other details about the new outbreaks were provided during the live COVID-19 news conference on Tuesday.
Morrison says there also continues to be outbreaks at various workplaces across the province.
Since September 2020, Morrison says Island residents have been able to access their negative COVID-19 test results online through the My Test Results page on the province's website.
Effective immediately, online results will also show if an individual tests positive for the virus.
"The results will be posted online within four to 24 hours after the test is completed," said Morrison.
Those who do not have access to a computer can call 1-833-533-9333 to get test results.
"Please be patient, as the staff working on that call line are working as fast as they can to respond to inquiries," said Morrison.
PUBLIC HEALTH FOLLOW-UP
Beginning Tuesday, Islanders aged 50 and older who test positive for COVID-19 will be prioritized for public health follow-up.
Morrison says the change is due to the high number of positive cases being reported each day.
"The capacity of our office and public health nursing to contact all positive cases in a timely manner has been exceeded," said Morrison. "If you are named as a close contact or have symptoms of COVID-19 you should not leave isolation until you receive confirmation that your test is negative."
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