HALIFAX -- Prince Edward Island is reporting no active cases of COVID-19 for the first time since November 2020, as the province announced plans to accelerate their reopening plan and allow travel from within the Atlantic provinces beginning June 23.

“We have no active cases of COVID in our province. That is a milestone we haven’t achieved in almost eight months," said Premier Dennis King during Tuesday's news update. "Not only is that a testament to the controls and measures we have put in place in Prince Edward Island, but it also speaks to the high adherence we have towards these measures, and that the epidemiology across the country is heading in the right direction with case counts declining over 70 per cent in the last three weeks.”

During Tuesday's news update, King announced a ‘soft-launch’ to welcome Atlantic Canadians back to P.E.I. on June 23, four days before the originally announced date of June 27.

Any residents of Atlantic Canada who apply and are approved under P.E.I.'s current travel streams will be admitted between June 23-27, without self-isolation, as long as they have received at least one dose of vaccine.

This will include permanent residents of the Magdalen Islands, where King says over 80 per cent of residents have been vaccinated with one dose, and over 30 per cent fully vaccinated.

The province's new 'P.E.I. pass program' will open for applications on June 17, and allow vaccinated Island residents and Atlantic Canadians to apply to travel to P.E.I. without self-isolating.

"The P.E.I. pass is a document that verifies that you've been fully or partially vaccinated, that you are not required to self-isolate in P.E.I.," said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief health officer. "The pass can be used multiple times and will expedite screening at the points of entry. If you meet the conditions then no further registration or declaration is needed."

The province then plans to reopen to the rest of the country on July 27, through the P.E.I. pass process.

“The P.E.I. pass will provide a seamless application process for anyone wishing to visit P.E.I. without fitting into one of our current streams of travel. Individuals who have two vaccines will be exempt from isolation requirements, and those with one dose will have a modified vaccination," said King.

Effective Thursday, June 17, the self-isolation period will be reduced from 14 days to eight days for people who travel to P.E.I. from within Canada, subject to a negative test on day eight.

That date was moved up from the original planned date of June 27, and means that isolated travellers who have completed at least eight days of self-isolation on June 17 will be able to end their self-isolation, pending a negative test.

For the first time since Nov. 6, 2020, P.E.I. currently has no active cases of COVID-19. The province has reported a total of 206 cases since the pandemic began.

VACCINE UPDATE

During Tuesday's news update, Dr. Heather Morrison said the province is on track to hit its vaccination goals.

According to Morrison, as of June 12, 116,691 doses of vaccine were administered, including over 17,000 second doses.

Over 71 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, and over 12 per cent have received two doses.

“Based on scheduled appointments, we do need an additional just over 13,000 people to receive a first dose before the end of June to hit our goal of 80 per cent uptake of first doses by the end of the month,” said Morrison.

Anyone over the age of 12 who has not scheduled an appointment for their first dose should do so.

King says after a call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he has confirmed that 29,000 doses of vaccine will be delivered to P.E.I. before the end of June, and additional 6,000 vaccines will be added into the two shipments before the end of June, bringing the province's total to 66,000 available doses of mRNA vaccines by the end of June.

“Our plan was created in a way we could adjust the steps if factors have changed, and some of those factors have changed. It’s safe to say with these additional doses arriving, things are moving in the right direction and give us confidence to make some changes," said King.

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.

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS

Public health encourages Islanders to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19, even after a negative test, and to self-isolate until results come back.

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
  • fever/chills
  • sore throat
  • runny nose, sneezing, congestion
  • headache
  • 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.

This is a developing story and will be updated.