P.E.I. to move out of lockdown and into 'circuit breaker' at midnight; one new case reported
HALIFAX -- Prince Edward Island will move out of its 72-hour lockdown as of midnight Thursday, and into a modified circuit breaker, public health officials announced Wednesday.
Beginning midnight Thursday, P.E.I. will enter a 10-day 'modified circuit breaker' which will last until 8 a.m. on March 14.
“As I’ve said before there is no playbook for dealing with COVID-19,” said P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison during a news update on Wednesday. “Based on our own experience and that of our colleagues in Atlantic Canada, the importance of going fast and hard is the most effective approach. I would rather be here to explain why we acted quickly to protect the health of Islanders as opposed to why we did not act fast enough, or do enough.”
The new restrictions include:
- All schools will reopen Thursday morning for classes, after being closed from Monday to Wednesday. This includes Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, which was the site of a rapid testing clinic, and is undergoing a deep clean and will be ready for students and staff to return Thursday morning.
- Each household can identify up to six consistent individuals they gather with indoors or outdoors. These consistent individuals may include family and friends. Physical distancing should be maintained. Personal gatherings should be kept as small as possible, and no more than your household, plus six.
- Organized gathering limits of 50 for activities including concerts, worship services, and movie theaters. No additional cohorts are permitted.
- Games, tournaments and competitions are not permitted. Rehearsals and individual and team practices are permitted in accordance with gathering limits.
- Weddings and funerals will continue to allow up to 50 people plus officiants. No wedding or funeral receptions are permitted
- Gyms and fitness facilities can operate at up to 50 per cent of standard operating capacity with additional cleaning.
- Museums and libraries can operate at 50 per cent of standard operating capacity.
- Child stores markets and craft fairs can operate at 50 per cent of standard operating capacity, provided entrances and exits are monitored to ensure that capacity is not exceeded.
- In-room dining is permitted in accordance with the gathering limit of 50 people, with a maximum table size of six individuals and a 10 p.m. closing time. Take-out and delivery are permitted.
- Personal services may operate on an appointment basis, provided a non-medical mask is worn at all times by staff and patrons.
- Healthcare centers may continue to operate at full capacity.
- Full time classroom learning K to 12 can resume with public health measures in place
- Long term care will continue to allow three partners in care and designated visitors.
P..E.I. Premier Dennis King said a record number of tests -- approximately 11,000 from Saturday to Monday -- gave him comfort that the lockdown could end at midnight Thursday, as scheduled.
“These are decisions that we’re comfortable in making because of the information we have gained through testing, and the high number of tests specifically in the industries and age groups we have focused on,” said King during Tuesday's news update.
Prince Edward Island had entered a 72-hour, provincewide lockdown Monday meant to stop two clusters of COVID-19 cases from spreading, and to help public health officials contact trace and ramp up testing.
The lockdown included schools and most non-essential businesses closing for three days, and new rules requiring Islanders to practise physical distancing with anyone outside their immediate households, which exceptions made for people who live alone or require essential support.
“Although we have yet to identify the source of this outbreak, we believe there is a link between the cluster of cases in Summerside and Charlottetown," said Morrison on Wednesday. "All new cases identified over the weekend are linked to other cases and close contacts, or to travel outside of the province. We are not seeing unlinked cases and there is no evidence of wide-spread community transmission.”
ONE NEW CASE
Prince Edward Island health officials are reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. One previously reported case is now considered recovered, as 22 active cases remain in the province.
Wednesday's new cases involves a female in her 20s who was a close contact of a previously reported case. Morrison says the woman had already been self-isolating and has mild symptoms.
Prince Edward Island has identified a total of 137 positive cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with no deaths and no hospitalizations reported.
As of Wednesday, 115 cases are considered recovered, and the province has 22 active cases of COVID-19, the highest number of active cases in the province since the pandemic began.
P.E.I. has identified 22 new cases of COVID-19 since last Wednesday, Feb. 24.
As of Tuesday, P.E.I. has completed 104,135 negative tests.
Morrison says results from about 800 tests are still pending, so there may be more positive cases identified in the coming days.
On Wednesday, P.E.I. health also issued a potential COVID-19 exposure notice for a Scotiabank in Summerside:
• Scotiabank (274 Water Street, Summerside)
- Wednesday, February 17 between 2:30 pm and 4:00 pm
- Thursday, February 18 between 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm
- Monday, February 22 between 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm
- Wednesday, February 24 between 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm
- Thursday, February 25 between 2:30 pm and 4:00 pm
A full list of potential exposure notices can be found on the P.E.I. website.
P.E.I. will receive its first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines 'within the next week', Morrison confirmed on Wednesday.
According to Morrison, the final number of doses has not been confirmed and will be a 'smaller number, relative to our other vaccines'.
"I had a conversation yesterday with the Prime Minister, we talked about a number of different things," said King during Wednesday's briefing. "I confirmed to that we would be gladly be accepting the AstraZeneca vaccine and put it into the rotation through public health."
Health Canada last week authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine for all adult Canadians but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older.
"Our initial conversations have been focused on younger, healthy adults who are really frontline and essential workers in certain categories," said Morrison of the plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine. "As we get more AstraZeneca then we'll certainly be having that conversation to expand that out as well."
As of Saturday, 12,176 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to P.E.I. residents, including 5,165 second doses.
"Despite the spike in cases and associated increase in testing and contact tracing, our vaccine distribution plan continues uninterrupted," said Morrison on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Morrison announced that P.E.I. will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some.
P.E.I. public health will begin delaying the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, in an effort to administer at least one dose to every Islander over the age of 16 by the end of June.
“Based on emerging evidence and population level data the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is anticipated release guidance on extending the second dose of the mRNA vaccines,” said Morrison on Tuesday.
Morrison says the change is based on research and data about how well the vaccine works after the first dose.
All individuals over the age of 80 will continue to receive both doses based on their existing appointments.
“Two weeks after the first dose, individuals will have very good protection,” said Morrison. “All individuals over the age of 80 will receive the two doses based on their existing appointments. However, going forward, others will receive a longer time interval in between their first and second doses. This approach will allow us to achieve herd immunity more quickly, thereby protecting more islanders from COVID-19.”
Morrison says P.E.I. expects to receive approximately 100,000 doses of vaccine between April 1 and the end of June.
Morrison said that between April and June, public health will focus on those in phase one who are not completed, people over the age of 60, beginning in five year increments with those over the age of 75, as well as first responders, and other frontline essential workers ages 18-54 who cannot work virtually including teachers, public transit drivers, grocery and retail clerks, and seafood and meat plant employees.
"Beginning in July second doses will start to be administered, youth aged 15 and under will be immunized as vaccines are approved for their age groups and non permanent residents international workers and students will also be immunized," said Morrison.
Morrison also said they expect doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to begin arriving 'in the next few weeks', although she does not know the exact number of doses.
"We would be targeting AstraZeneca to healthy younger individuals who are working frontline essential in certain frontline essential services," said Morrison during Tuesday's briefing, while adding that there will public health will release more guidance next week.
DROP-IN TESTING CLINICS
Islander’s who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can visit a drop-in testing clinic, or call 811. No appointment is necessary for the following locations.
O'Leary Testing Clinic (O'Leary Health Centre, 15 MacKinnon Drive)
- Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Summerside Testing Clinic (Slemon Park, 40 Aerospace Boulevard)
- Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Charlottetown Testing Clinic (64 Park Street)
- Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Montague Testing Clinic (Montague Legion, 15 Douses Road)
- Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Borden Testing Clinic For asymptomatic Rotational Workers (20 Dickie Road)
- Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 can request an appointment for a test online or call 1-855-354-4358.
Scheduled clinics are offered in Charlottetown at 64 Park Street and in Summerside in Slemon Park.
Prince Edward Island provides a list of possible COVID-19 symptoms on their website, which include:
- new or worsening cough
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- sore throat
- runny nose, sneezing, congestion
- muscle/joint/body aches
- feeling unwell/unusual tiredness
- acute loss of sense of smell or taste
Other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea have been reported, but typically along with other COVID-19 symptoms, and may be seen more often in children.
COVID ALERT APP
Canada's COVID-19 Alert app is available in Prince Edward Island.
The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.