Nfld. & Labrador

14 new cases of COVID-19 announced, as N.L. premier blasts Donald Trump

Dwight Ball sounded off on U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to ask medical supply firm 3M to stop selling N95 respirator masks to Canada.

Premier sounds off on Trump's decision to prevent sales of masks

Premier Dwight Ball says he's 'infuriated' by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to prevent 3M from selling N95 masks to Canada. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

There are 14 new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, chief medical officer of health Janice Fitzgerald said Sunday. 

All of the new cases are in the Eastern Health region. The new cases bring the province's total to 217.

Of the 217 cases, 167 are related to the "Caul's cluster," which involved exposure at Caul's Funeral Home in St. John's last month.

Ten people are in hospital, with three in intensive care. According to Fitzgerald, 28 people have now recovered from the virus.

Ball 'infuriated' by Trump

Early in Sunday's daily briefing, Premier Dwight Ball sounded off on U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to ask medical supply firm 3M to stop selling N95 respirator masks to Canada.

"To say that I'm infuriated with the recent actions of President Trump … is an understatement," Ball said. 

"I can't believe for a second, in a time of crisis, that President Trump would even think about banning key medical supplies to Canada."

Leading up to his comments about Trump, Ball told the story of the town of Gander taking in American passengers during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

"Newfoundland and Labrador will never give up on humanity. We will not hesitate for one second. If we had to repeat what we did in 9/11. We would do it again," he said.

Haggie said the move would have an impact on the amount of masks and personal protective equipment the province could access. However, he said things could change, saying the situation in the United States is "totally unpredictable."

Testing expanded Saturday

Testing for COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador is being expanded to include people in high-risk populations who are experiencing symptoms of the disease, and for those who work with them.

At Saturday's media briefing at Confederation Building, Fitzgerald said the provincial government's goal is to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at all health care facilities.

She said these include "long-term care facilities, personal-care homes, daycares, emergency shelters, correctional facilities and other housing programs serving vulnerable populations."

One of those new positive cases is a health-care worker who works at Charles S. Curtis Hospital in St. Anthony.

Haggie said Saturday that decisions about who to test are based on the best available evidence. 

"If that changes, so will we," said Haggie.

"It is targeted to provide protection for the workers in health care and also for our vulnerable populations."

As of Sunday afternoon, 3,565 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the province, with 3,348 testing negative.

According to Health Minister John Haggie, 2,728 people have been tested in the Eastern Health region, 244 people have been tested in the Central Health region, 349 in the Western Health region and 235 in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region.

Health Minister John Haggie says the province still faces challenges as COVID-19 testing expands, citing a need to be use testing resources appropriately. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador/YouTube)

Although testing was expanded over the weekend, Haggie said the province still faces challenges when it comes to appropriate use of current testing resources.

"There is nowhere in North America that has unlimited access to unlimited testing," Haggie said. "What we are doing is using those wisely on the basis that tomorrow, our next batch delivery of swabs, PPE or masks may never arrive. Because if we don't, we are not being good custodians of the best public interest."

"Until [supplies] actually land in our warehouses, there is absolutely no guarantee that any of our suppliers will actually be able to deliver," Haggie added.

Meanwhile, media in St-Pierre-Miquelon reported the French archipelago's first case of COVID-19 Saturday night.

The person is in quarantine at home and doing well, according to reports.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay calls for travel halt

Happy Valley-Goose Bay became the latest Labrador community to call for a stop to travel between the island and Labrador in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, joining communities like Natuashish and Nain.

"The community is very concerned with the amount of traffic coming to our community from the island of Newfoundland," a release from the town read. "We call on the premier to do the right thing. Close the Labrador border to everything and everyone not absolutely essential."

Ball said he hears the concerns of those living in Labrador, and that people in the community should be following the advice laid out by health officials.

"We have discouraged [travel] … on every occasion we get the opportunity to speak, non-essential travel is just not necessary," Ball said.

"[It's] inappropriate at this time, no matter which region of the province you're travelling to."

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