Healthcare

No new COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. after cluster linked to Nova Scotia

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, says border screening will remain in place for the foreseeable future. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 Monday, but close contacts of the five cases announced on the weekend are being monitored closely, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer said.

Dr. Heather Morrison reiterated at a news briefing with Premier Dennis King that all five cases are Islanders and not related to the Atlantic bubble or season residents.

“Given we can identify a probable source of infection for each of the active cases, there is no clear evidence of community spread of COVID-19 at this time in the province,” Morrison said.

“There would of course be greater concern if cases were being diagnosed without a history of travel or a direct connection to someone who had travelled or tested positive for COVID-19.”

On Saturday, Morrison and King announced three new cases, the first on the Island in more than two months. One case was related to travel and the patient, an essential worker in his 50s, had been self-isolating since returning home to the Island.

The other two cases were connected, and contact tracing revealed two more linked cases on Sunday.

The five new cases are all self-isolating and doing well, Morrison said.

All close contacts of the five active cases are also in self-isolation for 14 days and public health officials will follow up with them daily, Morrison said. All contact tracing was done in a 24-hour period.

Ten close contacts of the new cases reported Sunday have tested negative. 

Cluster tied to Nova Scotia travel

The starting point of the outbreak was a man in his 20s who had travelled to Nova Scotia and appears to have contracted COVID-19 from someone there who had recently been in the U.S.

The person who had been to the U.S. had intended to travel on to P.E.I. but did not do so because he did not have the required pre-screening approval, Morrison said.

She said she was told the man was stopped at the Confederation Bridge and refused entry to Prince Edward Island. A Nova Scotia government released issued midday said he is “now being quarantined under federal authority in Nova Scotia.”

(NS government)

Nova Scotia Premier Steven McNeil told a midafternoon briefing that the man flew from the United States to Toronto, then transferred to a flight to Halifax. Under the circumstances, he was supposed to self-isolate but did not. 

He is now being monitored “at an airport hotel” in the Halifax area, said Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

At the Charlottetown briefing, King said dozens of people have been turned away at the bridge for not meeting entry requirements in the last number of weeks.

Morrison said screening at the P.E.I. borders will remain for the foreseeable future.

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs in Surrey, B.C. The three new cases of the disease caused by coronavirus announced in P.E.I. on the weekend are the first in two months. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

One of the new cases is a female staff member at Whisperwood Villa, a long-term care home in Charlottetown. She started to feel ill while working a shift at the home last week.

All residents have now been tested except one person who could not be tested because of a pre-existing medical condition. That person will be monitored carefully for symptoms. A “small number” of staff still need to be tested, Morrison said.

Testing at Whisperwood

The staff and residents will be tested again starting Wednesday, July 8, Morrison said at Monday’s briefing.

People who visited Whisperwood Villa for any reason on June 30 are being asked to come forward for testing. 

“All steps are being taken to protect the residents and staff of the facility, and their safety remains our top priority,” Morrison said.

After 67 days without a case, we knew a resurgence of COVID-19 was possible at any time.— Dr. Heather Morrison

Before the cases confirmed on the weekend, P.E.I. had 27 cases of COVID-19, with the most recent case being identified at the end of April. 

As of Monday, those 27 cases were considered recovered or resolved and there have been no deaths related to COVID-19 recorded on the Island.

“After 67 days without a case, we knew a resurgence of COVID-19 was possible at any time,” Morrison said.

“We have to learn to live with this virus, but we cannot let our guard down. Each of us is responsible for taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves and protect others.”

Morrison said she will make an updated statement around the guidance of wearing non-medical masks at her regularly scheduled COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.

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