N.L. broadens testing criteria while marking full week with no new COVID-19 cases
Extended family gatherings, picnics and backyard barbecues are still prohibited
Newfoundland and Labrador hit one full week with no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, leaving the total caseload at 261.
With 248 recovered, and three deaths, the province's number of active cases is 10.
Thursday marks the 25th day since April 15 in which no new cases were reported.
"We are where we are today because of the efforts we have each put forth to control this virus in our province in the last two months," said Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, at the province's daily COVID-19 briefing.
"I know it has been difficult, and has come with great personal sacrifice, but on days where we feel like throwing in the towel on COVID-19 I hope we can each find renewed inspiration in the successes we have shared to date and move forward with fresh resolve.
As of Thursday's briefing the province has tested 10,275 people — 123 since Wednesday's update.
Watch the full May 14 update:
Health Minister John Haggie provided a breakdown on testing in each regional health authority as of Thursday morning. There have been 904 people tested in Central Health, 7,485 in Eastern Health, 491 in Labrador-Grenfell Health and 1,395 in Western Health. Haggie said the total number of tests actually done is about 1,000 higher than the number of people tested because some people have been tested more than once.
Fitzgerald broadened testing criteria on Thursday. Anyone with two or more of these symptoms should call the province's public health line, 811:
- Fever, or signs of a fever.
- Sore throat.
- Painful swallowing.
- Runny nose.
- Unexplained loss of appetite.
- Loss of sense of smell or taste.
- Small red or purple spots on hands and feet.
Health Minister John Haggie said people experiencing these symptoms should self-isolate until test results are returned.
Premier Dwight Ball said he understands some people feel the provincial government has been heavy-handed in its public health restrictions, but as the province moves into the Victoria Day long weekend it's important to continue to adhere to them.
"Every health measure will continue to protect and support you, and we will get through this," he said.
"We are not prepared to risk people's lives for the sake of going back to what was once a normal way of life for just having some fun on a long weekend. So please, do not look for loopholes. Continue to protect yourself, and ultimately this protects your loved ones."
Some national parks and historic sites are scheduled to partially reopen June 1, but overnight stays in Newfoundland and Labrador are still prohibited.
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are considering allowing travel between the two provinces.
But Ball says Newfoundland and Labrador can't consider "bubbling" with another province without the support of public health officials.
"We understand is that one of the ways the virus can get back into Newfoundland and Labrador is through travellers," he said.
"We put in place some very strict measures on travelling. We know that's difficult for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but all of this is based on measures and advice that would come from public health officials."
Fitzgerald said health officials will look at the epidemiology of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, and monitor any changes to the spread of virus within Newfoundland and Labrador as it moves through its own reopening stages.