No new cases of COVID-19 as N.L. enters long weekend
Number of active cases drops to 9 as prior positive case now considered inconclusive
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, marking eight days straight without a flare-up.
"This is no small feat, and serves as a good reminder of what we can achieve by working together," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said at Friday's daily briefing.
"As long as we remain disciplined and focused, we will continue to do well with keeping this virus at bay."
The province's total caseload actually moved down to 260 from 261, as Fitzgerald said a previous positive test has now been determined to be inconclusive.
That means that the number of active cases is now down to just nine, the lowest it has been since March 22.
As of Friday, 10,346 people have been tested for the virus across the province — 71 in the last 24 hours. Testing criteria were expanded Thursday to accommodate people with more symptoms.
Watch the full May 15 COVID-19 update:
Newfoundland and Labrador is gearing up for the Victoria Day weekend, a traditional camping weekend for many across the province. However, this year will be different.
The provincial government will issue statements with latest COVID-19 numbers Saturday through Monday, in lieu of its virtual daily briefings.
Fitzgerald said going outside this weekend is a good idea so long as it is with members of your own bubble. She added virtual gatherings are a good option.
"Our actions and behaviours this weekend will determine what COVID-19 will look like in our province in the next two weeks," she said.
When asked how the holiday weekend stacks up against concerns seen ahead of the Easter weekend, Fitzgerald said the risk of catching the virus is still real. While the prevalence in the population is now low, interaction between the public is now higher under Alert Level 4.
"[The] bottom line with this is that you cannot assume that we do not have anything in our communities. You have to assume that the virus is out there," she said.
"We do still have people coming into our province every day from elsewhere in Canada, and elsewhere in the world occasionally. So we still do have that risk of importation, and people are being compliant with the isolation order on the whole, but there is still that risk that virus could come in."
Premier Dwight Ball said there has been over 2,000 travel exemption requests filed since May 4. He added 217 people have entered Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 24 hours, many of whom are traveling to or from work.
Decisions not yet made on provincial parks
Some national parks and historic sites are scheduled to reopen — at least partially — on June 1, but overnight stays in Newfoundland and Labrador are still prohibited. The decision has been met with disappointment and anger from some who say camping can be done safely within household bubbles.
Ball said the plan, from the federal side, will be to co-ordinate with what is happening in each individual province.
Ball said there is no final decision on which provincial parks will actually be open.
"The final decision, working with the parks, and determining what alert level they could be open, those final decisions are not made yet," he said.
Health Minster John Haggie took aim at rumours circulating on social media about out-of-province visitors making their way into Newfoundland and Labrador under the travel ban on non-essential visitors.
"One of the issues we have in this era of instant social media is that it is very easy for a rumour to go around the province twice while the truth is putting its shoes on," said Haggie, paraphrasing a famous quote often (and mistakenly) attributed to Winston Churchill.
"That has happened several times over the course of this pandemic, and again it seems to have happened yesterday and the day before."
Haggie said those with out-of-province licence plates, like those circulated in rumours, have valid reasons for being in the province.