Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. adds 7 new cases of COVID-19, as Nova Scotia locks down borders

Newfoundland and Labrador continues to import the coronavirus, with six of Friday's seven new cases related to travel within Canada.

Caseload ticks up to 63

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. (Paul Daly/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as travellers continue to import the virus from other provinces.

Six of the seven cases announced are related to travel within Canada, according to a release from the Department of Health. Five are in the Eastern Health region and two are in Central Health. 

The department reported two new recoveries since Thursday, leaving the province with 63 active cases.

Since April 29, 14 of the 19 crew members aboard the Federal Montreal cargo ship anchored in Conception Bay have tested positive for the virus.

The Department of Health said the crew remain aboard the ship and are following public health orders, and there is no risk of community spread.

There is no one in hospital due to COVID-19.

In all, 135,547 people have been tested, including 346 since Thursday's update.

Travel continues to be a main source of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

Travel continues to drive new COVID-19 cases, with 18 of the 26 cases reported since Monday connected to people who've arrived in the province from elsewhere.

Officials say travel is on the rise in recent months.

In an email Friday, the Department of Health and Community Services provided CBC News with the numbers of people arriving in the province by air or marine travel:

  • February: 6,534 travellers, 42 per cent rotational workers and 14 per cent essential workers.
  • March: 7,917, 44 per cent rotational workers and 16.5 per cent essential workers.
  • April: 9,807, 38 per cent rotational workers and 15 per cent essential workers.

Those numbers do not include travellers crossing the land border between Labrador and Quebec, the department said.

But the rise in travel-related cases is not unexpected, says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald.

"There's a gradual rise in travelers coming to the province that happens every year this time of year. So there is that, but I think it's just a factor of what's happening everywhere else," she said during Wednesday's provincial briefing.

"A lot of our travel comes from Alberta. We're seeing huge rates in Alberta, so I think it's inevitable that when people come back from these places that have really high incidence, that we're going to see more cases after they get home."

Fitzgerald said there hasn't been any sign of the virus spreading outside affected households, however, which suggests that returning travellers and their families are adhering to self-isolation and following public health regulations.

On Friday, the department asked anyone on the following flights to arrange for testing:

  • Air Canada Flight 8990 from Halifax to St. John's on April 29.
  • Air Canada Flight 8016 from Montreal to St. John's on Sunday.
  • Air Canada Flight 8016 from Montreal to St. John's on Tuesday.
  • Air Canada Flight 8016 from Montreal to St. John's on Wednesday.

Nova Scotia off-limits to N.L. travellers

Elsewhere, Nova Scotia on Friday reported another day with a record number of new cases: 227, after reporting 182 on Thursday and 175 on Wednesday. Friday's new cases lift the province's active caseload to 1,464.

The rapid increase prompted officials there to tighten Nova Scotia's borders. 

"The situation we're in right now in Nova Scotia is very serious. Our public health staff are overwhelmed and we need to get things under control," said Premier Iain Rankin in a media release Friday.

The province is closing to people intending to move to the province, as well as non-essential travellers from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nova Scotia officials clarified in an email to CBC News that anyone driving through Nova Scotia from Newfoundland and Labrador is exempt from the restrictions.

However, drivers are expected to "self-isolate as much as possible the entire time," the spokesperson wrote. "That means making as few stops as possible and maintaining physical distance from other people."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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