Schools closed, no gatherings for 72 hours as P.E.I. moves to red stage
5 new cases bring P.E.I.'s active total to 18
Prince Edward Island is closing schools and not permitting gatherings for the next 72 hours, as well as encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible, as it deals with recent clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, announced the new measures during a COVID-19 update late Sunday, calling it a "modified red alert" period.
Five new cases — three males and two females — were announced on Sunday.
Three are linked to outbreaks in Charlottetown and one to an outbreak in Summerside.
The fifth person has a recent history of travel outside the Atlantic provinces and is not linked to the others. Morrison said that as required, this person reported for testing on arrival and then immediately began to self-isolate.
P.E.I. now has 18 active cases, and has identified a list 190 close contacts of the people involved "that continues to expand," Morrison said.
Community transmission is a possibility.— Dr. Heather Morrison
For the next 72 hours, household gatherings are not permitted, though a household can be associated with two individuals for essential support reasons. As well, people who live alone can associate with one other household.
Organized gatherings are also not permitted, and funerals can have no more than 10 people plus officiants.
Only essential businesses open to public
Only businesses and services that are considered essential will continue to be allowed to open to the public — among them, medical and dental services, child care centres, grocery stores, gas stations, banks and liquor stores.
Businesses outside these areas can still operate as long as they interact with customers by phone or online, and arrange for contactless pickup or delivery.
All recreational facilities will be closed, including gyms.
Morrison urged anyone showing symptoms to get tested. She also said anyone aged 19-29, even if they are not showing symptoms, should get tested if they work in the following areas:
- Food service industry.
- Meat and fish processing industry.
- Long-term care workers who are not vaccinated.
- Delivery drivers or public transit drivers.
- Call centre workers.
"Community transmission is a possibility and of course we remain concerned," she said.
Premier Dennis King said the origin of the recent cases remains unknown. It has also not been determined if COVID-19 is being spread by coronavirus variants or the original virus.
The new measures will help the province "wrap our arms around the most recent outbreak," King added,
"We are hoping the next few days will give us the time and data to help answer some of the many questions that we have and the many questions that you as Islanders have as well."
King issued an impassioned plea for anyone who is not feeling well to stay home and not go to work.
"We don't need work heroes," he said. "We need you to be careful."
He also urged employers to stress to workers that they should stay home if they are feeling unwell, and offer "supports" to make sure the message is heeded.
Public exposure sites
Here is a list of newly announced sites and times of potential public exposure, as of Sunday evening. Anyone who has visited the locations within the times provided should self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible.
Some additional operations were affected by cases that were not part of Morrison's exposure list. Earlier Sunday, Red Shores Summerside said it will close until further notice after the P.E.I. Chief Public Health Office notified it of "a potential exposure to COVID-19."
A statement on the racetrack and casino's site said Red Shores Charlottetown is not affected and will stay open while observing Morrison's new restrictions on capacity.
Also, the Charlottetown-based office of Century 21 Colonial Realty said it would be closed "for the next few days" because of an exposure related to COVID-19.
A notice on Facebook added: "The majority of our agents were not in the building during the timeframe of which we are required to contact trace."
Testing locations and hours
After a busy weekend that saw about 4,500 tests for COVID-19 collected — 2,000 at Three Oaks High School in Summerside alone — provincial public health officials are looking for more swabs.
Here are the times and places of Monday's testing clinics for people who may have had exposure at the above sites as well as for anyone experiencing symptoms:
- Charlottetown Park Street clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Montague Legion Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m
- Summerside Slemon Park Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- O'Leary Health Centre Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Health PEI announced changes for testing sites this evening because of potentially bad weather on Tuesday.
- Stratford testing site at Stratford Town Hall will be open for people aged 19-29 who work in the food service industry, meat and fish processing plants, call centres, transportation and delivery or any long-term care staff who are not vaccinated and do not have symptoms until close at 8 p.m. tonight. It was previously open only to 19- to 24-year-olds working in that industry today.
- Three Oaks High School testing site is available for 25- to 29-year-olds who work in the food service industry, meat and fish processing plants, call centres, transportation and delivery or any long-term care staff who are not vaccinated and who do not have symptoms until 6 p.m. This clinic was also previously open today only to 19- to 24-year-olds.
Reminder about symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
- Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
- Sore throat.
- New or worsening fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.
More P.E.I. news
- An earlier version of this story said the Walmart in Summerside was the site of a public exposure on Feb. 27; that exposure actually involved the Walmart in Charlottetown, as did another exposure on Feb. 24.Feb 28, 2021 9:11 PM AT