Nfld. & Labrador

11 new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in N.L.

"It has never been more urgent to do your part," Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Monday, after the number of presumptive cases spiked.

Latest

  • 11 new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in eastern Newfoundland
  • 1,131 people have been tested, 1,096 have come back negative.
  • Further closures to all private health clinics, exception of physicians and nurse practitioners
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday there are 11 new COVID-19 cases in the province since Monday. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador has 11 new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, says the province's chief medical officer of health.

The total number of presumptive and confirmed cases is now 35. Four have been confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

The 11 new cases are all within the Eastern Health region of Newfoundland.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald is ordering further closures of all private health clinics, with the exception of physicians and nurse practitioners. Clinicians can reopen for emergencies.

Fitzgerald said dentists, optometrists, physiotherapists, dietitians, chiropractors, psychologists, registered massage therapists, osteopaths, dental hygienists, acupuncturists and audiologists are expected to close clinics as well.

"To those that are healthy and well, unless it is necessary for you to get groceries and other essentials, please stay home," Fitzgerald said Tuesday during the provincial government's daily COVID-19 update. 

"If you are sick, stay home. This is not the time to go to work when you are not 100 per cent."

Watch the full March 24 update:

Premier Dwight Ball doubled down. 

Ball said all non-essential services should be closed to deter the spread of the virus.

"It's going to take some time to define this to where we want it to be, but we're just asking people to do the responsible thing. If you're not an essential service, then let's just shut it down," he said.

Garages and service stations are still essential services, Ball said.

Provincial Health Minister John Haggie said the province is keeping liquor stores open — through telephone and online orders, rather than shutting them down completely — as a harm reduction measure.

"One of the challenges we have … is we don't know with any great detail the true prevalence of alcohol habituation or use in the community on an individual basis," Haggie said.

"There is a feeling, given the fact that three times more people a year die from alcohol-related causes as from opioid deaths, that we have a significant challenge from numbers."

The province announced a new presumptive case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed to CBC News of at least four employees either in the department or the Canadian Coast Guard may have been exposed to COVID-19 through attending, or through family members who attended, a funeral in St. John's last week. 

"All employees are self-isolating and following the direction of local public health authorities," DFO said in a statement.

Stay home

Fitzgerald said if you are over 60 or have underlying health conditions, ask a friend or family member to pick up essential groceries or medications for you.

Ball is reminding residents to socialize only when necessary, in groups of less than 10.

"We cannot stress this enough: you need to stay home. Because we are indeed talking about saving lives," he said.

"We need every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian to follow the measures and guidelines that we have put in place."

As of Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the province totalled 24. Of those, four have been confirmed, with the other 20 cases presumptive. 

At least one of those cases was found positive in an employee at a Canada Post facility in St. John's, prompting the company to send all employees home and 13 employees to go into isolation.

Fitzgerald said the risk is quite low for anyone picking up their mail from their mailbox.

"What we know about this virus is that it tends not to survive in the cold, tends not to survive on porous surfaces. So the risk is quite low with regards to transmission through the mail," she said.

Of the 15 new presumptive cases announced Fitzgerald on Monday, 14 are in the Eastern Health region, while one is in the Central Health region. 

Eight of the cases in the Eastern region are linked to a single prior case, two are travel-related, and all other cases are still under investigation. Public health officials have been tracing contacts.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced its first presumptive case March 14.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador