P.E.I. has 3 new COVID-19 cases, 1 tied to long-term care home

P.E.I.’s premier and chief public health officer gave an unscheduled live update today, confirming 3 new COVID-19 cases involving Island residents. These are the first new cases the province has seen since April 28.

Dr. Heather Morrison says 1 of the 3 new patients works at Whisperwood Villa

Health officials dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment entered Whisperwood Villa Saturday afternoon. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Prince Edward Island has identified three new cases of COVID-19, its first in more than two months, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed Saturday. 

One is a man in his 50s who was self-isolating after recent travel, and two people are in their 20s, Morrison said at an unscheduled briefing in Charlottetown.

"COVID-19 has not gone away," she said, noting that the situation should act as a stark reminder of how important public messages have been, with regards to maintaining physical distancing and keeping a small social circle.

The three people are all Islanders and are essential workers. None had been outside the country. 

One of the two younger patients works at Whisperwood Villa in Charlottetown. All residents and staff were being tested starting Saturday afternoon and Morrison said anyone who was at the facility on June 30 needs to be tested immediately.

No residents have shown symptoms

None of the residents have shown any new symptoms relating to COVID-19, Morrison said. All indoor and outdoor visits are being halted in light of the news; indoor visits at P.E.I.'s public and private long-term care facilities had only resumed on June 26. 

The young woman who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at the care facility recently, but she wore personal protective equipment, Morrison added.

Whisperwood has confirmed to public health officials that none of its staff work at other locations, Morrison noted.

Morrison said the young staff member left work when she began feeling ill, and she is still experiencing symptoms.

"This is an isolated case and was identified very early. The risk of staff or residents being exposed to COVID-19 through this one employee is low," Jason Lee, the CEO for P.E.I. Seniors Homes, including Whisperwood Villa, wrote in a Facebook post.

"Whisperwood will implement some of its previous safety precautions including closing our dining room and suspending indoor and outdoor visits for the next 14 days." 

Had contact with young man returning from N.S.

The woman was a contact of the other younger patient, an Island man who travelled back to P.E.I. from Nova Scotia on June 29. While in Nova Scotia, he had contact with someone from the United States.

The older patient, the man in his 50s, is an essential worker who travelled outside the region recently and has self-isolated since returning.

At Tuesday's weekly COVID-19 briefing, Morrison said almost 1,400 new negative tests had returned since last week, and more than 11,500 tests had been done on P.E.I.

P.E.I.'s last reported case of COVID-19 was on April 28. Now the Island has had 30 confirmed cases, with 27 of those considered recovered.

No changes to Atlantic bubble for now

Morrison stressed that the new cases are not related to either the approval process for seasonal residents or the Atlantic bubble, the process that allowed residents of the four Atlantic provinces to visit other places within the region without self-isolating as of Friday.

Premier Dennis King said contact tracing is underway in all three cases, and he will wait for the results before committing to any changes in P.E.I.'s current level of precautions. 

"As of right now, nothing has changed," he said.

As for the younger Island man who drove back from Nova Scotia earlier this week, King said there was no question he had the right to do so.

COVID doesn't care about your licence plate or your background or your geography.- P.E.I. Premier Dennis King

"Any Canadian citizen is able to travel back to their home ... regardless of where they live."

King stressed that all three of the new cases involve Prince Edward Islanders, not residents of other provinces or countries. 

"COVID doesn't care about your licence plate or your background or your geography," the premier said.

Daily briefings are expected until the situation is resolved, King said.

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