Nfld. & Labrador

18 straight days with no new cases of COVID-19 in N.L.

The province has adopted a minimum 28-day period before moving to a new phase that would see a further loosening of public health measures.

Province has adopted a minimum of 28 days before further relaxing regulations

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Monday guidelines for businesses slated to open in Alert Level 3 will be provided in the next day or two. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

For the 18th day in a row, Newfoundland and Labrador has reported no new cases of COVID-19. 

The province's case total remains 260. As of Monday's briefing, the number of recovered cases also stands still at 254, with three active cases. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said 11,347 people have been tested as of Monday's briefing — 60 in the last 24 hours. 

"Zero — I think, like many of us — has become my favourite number during this pandemic," said Premier Dwight Ball.

Watch the full May 25 update:

Fitzgerald said that while residents have done well in flattening the curve, the province has not seen the last of the virus, even as the provincial government moves through its reopening plan. 

"We will likely see an increase in cases of COVID-19," she said. "And as I've said before, the reason we've fared so well to date is directly attributable to our strict adherence to the public health measures in place."

Ball gave an updated figure to travel exemption since May 4, when the province closed its borders to non-essential travel. The premier said some 3,200 exemption applications have been filed since then, and all but seven per cent have been granted. In the past 24 hours, said Ball, 169 people have entered the province.

Health Minister John Haggie said Monday work continues to be done by each of the province's four regional health districts, to ramp up services to clear a backlog of surgical procedures. And while delays and unfilled orders of personal protective equipment have been the norm since the pandemic began, the province "had a better week with deliveries last week," he said.

"It's still a significant challenge, when bearing in mind across the system we go through somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 gowns every day," he said.

"We're talking orders that need to be in the millions to ensure both the ability to go back to a fairly normal level of functioning in the post-COVID era, as well as to be able to meet the surge capacity."

Looking ahead

Two weeks from today, Newfoundland and Labrador could see more restrictions lifted by moving to Alert Level 3. 

When asked for an update as to how child-care services will prepare for an influx of children, as more people go back to work, Fitzgerald said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is working on a plan to increase the number of children that will be allowed in daycare facilities.

Premier Dwight Ball provided an update to the province's travel exemption applications on Monday saying about 3,200 have been filed since May 4. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Fitzgerald said more guidance for businesses that are slated to reopen under Alert Level 3 will be provided by the provincial government in the next day or two. 

Asked if there is a threshold for reimposing public health orders, something the provincial government has said can happen in the event of another surge, Fitzgerald said there are several factors being followed closely, including the total caseload and reproductive rate. 

"In addition to that we'll be looking at other other parameters that will are indicators that will tell us about our health-care system capacity about our public health system capacity," Fitzgerald said.

"All of those things are things we have to consider moving forward and that's all a part of our ongoing surveillance."

Asymptomatic cases

Asked if the fact that there haven't been any new cases since May 7 means that asymptomatic carriers aren't infecting others in the province, Fitzgerald said there's little information about how asymptomatic people transmit the virus.

"[It] may also be that some people are being very good with self-isolation and so we're not seeing spread because they're following the guidelines and staying at home," she said. 

"But it certainly bodes well that we haven't seen any cases coming up in our testing or we haven't seen people presenting to hospital. That certainly does bode well for us having a low prevalence here in the province."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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