As Prince Edward Island deals with recent clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown, it is closing schools and banning gatherings for the next 72 hours, as well as encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible.
During a COVID-19 update late Sunday, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, announced the new measures, calling it a “modified red alert” period.
On Sunday, five new cases were announced, three males and two females.
Three have been linked to outbreaks in Charlottetown, and one has been linked to a Summerside outbreak.
The fifth person has no links to the others and has recently traveled outside of the Atlantic provinces. According to Morrison, this person reported for testing on arrival and then immediately started to self-isolate.
Morrison said that P.E.I. currently has 18 active cases and has identified a list of 190 close contacts of those involved, “that continues to expand.”
Household gatherings are banned for the next 72 hours, but a household may be associated with two persons for essential support purposes. People who live alone may also associate with another household.
Organized gatherings are also not permitted, and funerals can have no more than 10 people plus officiants.
Only essential businesses and services will be permitted to remain open to the public, including medical and dental services, child care centers, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and liquor stores.
Outside of these areas, businesses can continue to operate as long as they interact with customers over the phone or online and arrange for contactless pickup or delivery.
All recreational facilities, including gyms, will be closed.
Morrison urged those showing symptoms to get tested. She also said anyone aged 19-29, even if they are not showing symptoms, should get tested if they work in the following areas:
-Food service industry.
-Meat and fish processing industry.
-Long-term care workers who are not vaccinated.
-Delivery drivers or public transit drivers.
-Call centre workers.
She said that “Community transmission is a possibility and of course, we remain concerned.”
Premier Dennis King said the origin of the recent cases remains unknown. It has also not been determined if COVID-19 is being spread by coronavirus variants or the original virus.
King added that the new measures will help the province “wrap our arms around the most recent outbreak. We are hoping the next few days will give us the time and data to help answer some of the many questions that we have and the many questions that you as Islanders have as well.”
King issued an impassioned plea for anyone who is not feeling well to stay home and not go to work.
He said that “We don’t need work heroes. We need you to be careful.”
He also encouraged employers to stress to workers the importance of remaining at home if they are sick and to provide “supports” to ensure that the message is heeded.
Here is a list of newly announced sites and times of potential public exposure as of Sunday evening. Anyone who has visited the locations within the times provided should self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible.
-Dominos Pizza, Summerside: Feb. 15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
-Burger King, Summerside: Feb. 18, 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
-City bus 1, Charlottetown: Feb. 20, 4:30-5 p.m.
-Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar, Charlottetown: Feb. 21, 2-3 p.m.
-Gahan House, Charlottetown: Feb. 22, 8:30-10:30 p.m.
-Taste of India, Charlottetown: Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Feb. 25, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Feb. 26, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
-Superstore, 465 University Ave, Charlottetown: Feb. 22, 6-9 p.m.; Feb. 24, 6:30-7 p.m.
-Junco Market, Charlottetown: Feb. 24, 5-5:30 p.m.
-Walmart in Charlottetown: Feb. 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Feb. 27, 2-2:30 p.m.
-Christmas Discounters, Summerside: Feb. 25, noon-1 p.m.
Cases that were not on Morrison’s exposure list had an effect on some additional operations. Earlier Sunday, Red Shores Summerside said it would close until further notice after receiving notification from the P.E.I. Chief Public Health Office of “a potential exposure to COVID-19.”
A statement on the racetrack and casino’s site said Red Shores Charlottetown is not affected and will stay open while observing Morrison’s new restrictions on capacity.
In addition, the Charlottetown office of Century 21 Colonial Realty stated that it would be closed “for the next few days” due to a COVID-19 exposure.
A notice on Facebook added that “The majority of our agents were not in the building during the timeframe of which we are required to contact trace.”
Provincial public health authorities are looking for more swabs after a busy weekend that saw about 4,500 COVID-19 samples collected, including 2,000 at Three Oaks High School in Summerside alone.
The following are the times and locations of Monday’s testing clinics for anyone who may have been exposed at the above locations or anyone experiencing symptoms:
-Charlottetown Park Street clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
-Montague Legion Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m
-Summerside Slemon Park Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
-O’Leary Health Centre Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The following two clinics are for people aged 19-24 on Monday and 25-29 Tuesday, who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, and “who work in the food service industry, meat, and fish processing plants, call centres, transportation and delivery, and any long-term care staff who are not vaccinated.”
-Summerside Three Oaks Clinic, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (This clinic is also meant for younger people without symptoms, aged 14 to 19.)
-Stratford Town Hall Clinic, open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
-Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
-Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
-New or worsening fatigue.
-Shortness of breath.