Nfld. & Labrador

4th straight day without a new case of COVID-19 in N.L.

While there have been no new cases of the virus found in Newfoundland and Labrador in four days, 85 health-care workers are self-isolating after a patient was tested twice for COVID-19, with negative results. After they were moved to another floor, the person tested positive.

Number of active cases drops to 15

Eastern Health have told the potentially affected staff to monitor their symptoms and self-isolate for 14 days. Swabbing has begun according to normal protocol, says the health authority. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

For the fourth straight day Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting zero new cases of COVID-19.

The total number of cases remains at 259, with 241 people having recovered from the virus.

As of Tuesday 9,139 people have been tested — 204 since Monday's update.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said that while another day of no new cases is a promising step for Newfoundland and Labrador, the province will be closely watching for any potential fallout in the next two weeks since it allowed two households to join bubbles last Thursday. 

Watch the full May 5 update:

"I cannot stress to you enough that strictly following the orders at every alert level moving forward will be critical to our success," Fitzgerald said.

"The public health measures that we have so diligently practised are now embedded in our daily routines and must continue for the duration of this pandemic.... Tough times never last, but strong and resilient people do. Hold fast, Newfoundland and Labrador."  

Meanwhile, some staff at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's are in self-isolation after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive patient over the weekend. On Monday Eastern Health told CBC news about 85 workers had been affected. On Tuesday Premier Dwight Ball said it was more than 90, while the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, the union that represents those health-care workers, said it was 99.

"It is an evolving situation, but we're very pleased to be able to say that so far the tests are coming back negative for those that were impacted," said Ball.

While the number of potential contacts is high, the details of the patient's test results raise questions, too. 

The patient, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, was admitted to the COVID-19 ward at the Health Sciences Centre. After the patient's condition improved, they tested negative for the virus, twice. 

They were then moved to another ward at the hospital. There, the patient's condition deteriorated. They were tested again and the results came back positive.

Fitzgerald said the definition of a COVID-19 recovery is someone whose symptoms have resolved and who has had two resulting negative tests. But, Fitzgerald said, the test itself is quite sensitive.

"It detects the RNA that's in the virus. That's the genetic material that's in the virus. If there is any of that RNA present and it's at a level that's high enough to be detected, even if it's just very faintly, it will be detected by that test," she said. 

"So you can actually have particles of RNA that are not a part of a live virus be detected. And that is, unfortunately, something we see with these types of what we call nucleic acid tests."

Alert Level 4

As May 11 approaches, when the province plans to allow some businesses to reopen, Fitzgerald said she met with the business community Tuesday morning to help lay the foundation for living and working with COVID-19.

Fitzgerald said a balance has to be struck between the benefits of public health measures and negative consequences outside the scope of the virus's effects.

"As we navigate the next level, I hope you find peace and comfort in knowing how far we have already come thanks to our collective efforts, support and determination," she said. 

The tourism industry took another hit Monday as the province closed its borders to all non-essential travellers. Ball said the provincial government plans to work with tourism-dependent businesses that might have a difficult time recovering in a post-pandemic world. 

"We have taken the advice of the chief medical officer. We need to look no further than south of the border when we see what happens when politicians get involved on public health orders," Ball said.

"We will be working closely with the tourism industry, like we will with other businesses as well, but realizing they're one group that will find it very difficult to respond quickly to this because of those restrictions."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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