2nd wave of pandemic in Canada worries P.E.I. public health leaders

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway in Canada, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison, and that has her concerned.

‘One superspreader event could tax our capacity’

P.E.I. wants to keep the pandemic on a slow burn on the Island, says Dr. Heather Morrison. (CBC)

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway in Canada, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison — and that has her concerned.

Case numbers are on the rise, with a 53-per-cent increase in Saskatchewan over the week before and a 36-per-cent increase in B.C.

Morrison said it is likely the country has not yet seen the peak of hospitalizations and deaths that will result from the rising case counts.

Thanksgiving gatherings are being blamed for some of the spread of COVID-19, a fact that has Morrison warning P.E.I. must remain vigilant.

"One superspreader event could tax our capacity to conduct contact tracing and provide the necessary critical care for Islanders," said Morrison.

"Our attitudes and behaviours will determine how COVID-19 impacts our province and if we have a second wave or stay in the slow-burn path."

Those behaviours include practising physical distancing, keeping social circles small, and regular handwashing.

Christmas travel

Maintaining the integrity of the Atlantic bubble, and ensuring that people coming from outside the bubble self-isolate, is an essential part of the province's defence against the pandemic, she said.

She noted restrictions on gatherings are being re-implemented in other parts of the country, something that is not being considered for Prince Edward Island as things stand.

"We hope to avoid mandatory and sweeping lockdowns," she said.

The Chief Public Health Office has been getting questions about family visits at Christmas, Morrison said.

Family visitors from outside the Atlantic bubble will require pre-travel approval, she said, and will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

No changes planned for self-isolation requirements

The province has been watching experiments on reducing the required self-isolation period in other jurisdictions, including one in Alberta that uses a combination of testing and quarantine, but Morrison said there is not enough evidence yet from those experiments to make any changes.

"We will be maintaining the legal requirement to self-isolate for the foreseeable future," she said.

In particular, she said it is unlikely any changes will be made before the Christmas season.

More from CBC P.E.I.


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