4 of 22 of cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. considered recovered, chief public health officer says
No new cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island Friday
Four of the 22 COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. are considered recovered, said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, during her afternoon briefing Friday.
None of the Island's cases are currently being hospitalized, she said, and public health nurses are checking in with them daily.
Across the globe, Morrison noted that there are currently more than one million cases of COVID-19. In Canada, she said there have been more than 11,000 cases with 138 deaths. She said the number of hospitalizations continues to rise across the country.
Morrison said more than 1,000 P.E.I. tests have been conducted with close to 140 of those done on Thursday. Additional results are expected to return later today.
Local testing is continuing to be carried out, targeting specific populations such as those in long-term care and community care facilities and health-care workers on P.E.I.
Morrison said the province is working to double the capacity for local testing every three to seven days.
But she noted tests that have returned positive on P.E.I. would still need to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
If you're not complying with the measures of self-isolation you are putting yourself and others at serious risk and you can be fined— Dr. Heather Morrison
Over the last day or so, Morrison said about 30 local tests have been conducted. She said more tests will be done over the weekend as needed.
Morrison said as testing capacity increases locally, the aim will be to have only positive tests sent to the national lab. Those tests would be considered presumptive until confirmed at the national lab.
'You can be fined'
Morrison reminded Islanders to comply with the province's public health orders.
"I need to be clear, if you're not complying with the measures of self-isolation you are putting yourself and others at serious risk and you can be fined," she said.
Enforcement officers across the Island continue to issue verbal and written warnings to those who have violated the orders, she said.
Close to 80 additional staff members have been hired to help with an increasing number of 811 calls.
Morrison reminded people in need of medical attention unrelated to COVID-19 that they should still call 911 in an emergency or visit an emergency department to access care.
Returning to 'normal'
While no new cases have been reported Friday afternoon, Morrison emphasized that it is not a time to become complacent.
"In fact, it is the time that we need to be just as vigilant as ever. I expect the number of cases in P.E.I. to increase and I expect we will see cases in Prince Edward Island that require hospitalization."
She asked Islanders to continue to practise physical distancing, self-isolation if required and to continue being diligent in washing their hands.
While the urge to return to "normal" may feel strong as people head into another weekend, she told Islanders, "now is not the time."
"And I know it's difficult, it's really hard. And in many ways it seems almost counterintuitive that we're asking people to stay apart, but if we don't make these difficult decisions and choices now, it will influence the weeks ahead."
By doing something as simple as these measures, we can together save lives.— Dr. Heather Morrison
She also reminded people that staying physically apart does not mean disconnecting. She encouraged Islanders to explore new ways to remain connected with friends and loved ones.
"The better ways we are at implementing these measures, the better chance we have in P.E.I., not only of flattening the curve … but I'd like to think we could make it closer to a pancake," she said.
"By doing something as simple as these measures, we can together save lives."
Morrison said the province is working on COVID-19 modelling for P.E.I. The province expects the federal government to soon release its own modelling.
It's difficult to complete projections, Morrison said, with such a low number of cases on the Island.
She said the province is currently working with a team of epidemiologists on projections and when numbers become available, government will make them public.
For now, Morrison said testing on P.E.I. is focusing on those who have symptoms.
She said if evidence of community transmission surfaces, the province will review criteria for testing.
Morrison clarified that asymptomatic transmission is not driving the outbreak in this country or around the world.
"It's something we need to pay attention to," she said.
She mentioned that if residents at long-term care facilities become ill, the province will have to look at testing health-care workers at those facilities — even if they are asymptomatic.
Morrison said screening at the Charlottetown airport is currently being conducted.
She said the province is exploring what options exist should a traveller be considered non-essential. She also said that those who arrive at the airport and are told to self-isolate are now contacted daily to make sure they are complying with the order.
If they can't be reached, enforcement officers will become involved. Morrison said discussions over ferry travel will take place in the coming days.
Health PEI's chief of nursing Marion Dowling reminded Islanders the province continues to offer essential services only.
Dowling said as the province reaches its third week in responding to the pandemic, officials have reviewed the medical services being provided.
She said Health PEI is looking at specific patient needs that have been delayed so far.
She said some appointments and procedures may be rebooked, and people will be contacted in the coming days if their appointments are back on. She reminded people to call ahead to ensure their appointments are going ahead.
Cough and fever clinics
The Island's cough and fever clinics and drive-thru testing sites continue to see an increase of patients, Dowling said. The clinic in Charlottetown saw 129 patients and the Summerside location saw 51 on Thursday.
Referrals can be made through family doctors or by calling 811. She reminded people they must remain in their car once they arrive to the clinics.
Dowling said the province continues to look at a number of sites across the Island as part of its COVID-19 response plan, including the Riverview Manor in Montague.
As the building was only recently decommissioned, Dowling said the province is looking at what would be involved to have it up and running.
The manor is part of a number of sites that are being reviewed to serve different purposes when the Island experiences a surge of COVID-19 cases.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
With files from Malcolm Campbell