Nfld. & Labrador

1 new case of COVID-19 in N.L.; Nunatsiavut prepares for 2nd dose of vaccine

Over 70 per cent of adults in Labrador's north coast communities have received the first dose of Moderna's product, according to Nunatsiavut's health minister.

New case is man under 40, related to international travel

Public health nurse Betty Sampson prepares the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine administered in Makkovik on Jan. 11. (Submitted by Nunatsiavut government)

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, while Nunatsiavut prepares to roll out second doses of the Moderna vaccine next month.

The new case is a man under 40 in the Eastern Health region. The Department of Health says it has completed contact tracing, and that the case is related to international travel.

Friday's update brings the numbers of active cases to seven, with one person in hospital. So far, 77,463 people have been tested, including 193 since Thursday.

Friday's case follows an infection announced Thursday related to contagion on the MV Blue Puttees, a ferry that runs between Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L.

While a spokesperson for the operator, Marine Atlantic, said he expected 125 employees to be tested, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang said in a press conference Friday afternoon that all staff on board — 60 people — had been tested.

Of those tests, officials found one other crew member who was positive, while everyone else tested negative, Strang said.

The Nunatsiavut government on Friday released numbers on residents who got the vaccine when it arrived on the north coast earlier this month. The data shows 70.9 per cent of eligible adults, age 18 and older, got the vaccine.

"From the community's feedback, it was very positive," says Gerald Asivak, Nunatsiavut's minister of health and social development.

"People were happy and very ecstatic that it was finally here — a sense of relief. And the overall number of 70.9 per cent is something to be proud of."

The percentage of those who received the vaccine varied by community: 73.8 per cent in Makkovik, 69.3 per cent in Hopedale, 89.1 per cent in Rigolet, 66.3 per cent in Nain and and 68 per cent in Postville.

Asivak said there could be a number of reasons for the varying rates.

"There could have been some people being away, out of town, acute illness, away for work, gone to their cabins," he told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"I also feel that there might be some vaccine hesitancy around this. It's a brand-new pandemic, it's a brand-new vaccine. Some people might have been very wary of it."

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being sent to rural and isolated communities because it is less restricted for travel. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Asivak said he suspects there may be "some myths or misconceptions" about the vaccine, but assures residents it has undergone clinical trials with 94 per cent effectiveness.

For those looking for more information, about the vaccine, he said residents should visit official websites, like Nunatsiavut's health page, Labrador-Grenfell Health, the provincial government's COVID-19 portal, or the federal government's website.

"Trust only trusted sources," he advised.

Asivak said planning is well underway for delivery of the second Moderna dose to Nunatsiavut communities from Feb. 8 to 13.

"We have been in talks with Labrador-Grenfell Health, and Health and Community Services, even up to as of late yesterday, saying we've done our first part, we need commitment for the second dosage, and we have been receiving confirmation from the government that yes, there will be enough to roll out for the second dosage."

While receiving the vaccine has been a great relief for many, Asivak stressed that following public health measures is still vital.

Front-line health-care workers, long-term care residents, and isolated and Indigenous communities, as well as vulnerable populations, are the first priority groups identified in the province's vaccine rollout plan.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning