PEI

'We just figured it was time': P.E.I. residents return home in middle of COVID-19 pandemic

Sharon Saliga-Farrell says fears about the spread of COVID-19 in their winter home in Florida prompted them to pack their bags and head back to P.E.I. early. 

‘I think Canadians are taking it a little more serious, which is a good thing’ 

Mike Farrell, left, and Sharon Saliga-Farrell say fears about the spread of COVID-19 in their winter home in Florida prompted them to pack their bags and head back to P.E.I. early. (Submitted by Sharon Saliga-Farrell )

Sharon Saliga-Farrell says fears about the spread of COVID-19 in their winter home in Florida prompted them to pack their bags and head back to P.E.I. early. 

Saliga-Farrell and her husband, Mike Farrell, purchased the Island Home Bed and Breakfast in Summerside last year. Saliga-Farrell says her medical insurance was going to expire on April 15.

Normally, it's easy to get it extended, she said. But because of the global pandemic, her insurance company would only extend her insurance in an emergency.

"It's a majority of Canadians where we are in our neighbourhood and everyone was trying to get home," said Saliga-Farrell, who is now self-isolating at her bed and breakfast, along with her husband.

"We just figured it was time and the numbers were really going up in Florida.… I think Canadians are taking it a little more serious, which is a good thing. More serious than what we've seen in Florida." 

'Consider delaying coming to your cottage' 

Public health officials on P.E.I. are encouraging residents to stop all non-essential travel. 

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says unless your primary residence is on Prince Edward Island, you should consider delaying coming to your cottage on P.E.I. until at least the end of May or until the COVID-19 situation changes. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Those who return to P.E.I., from within Canada or anywhere else, must self-isolate for 14 days. 

But Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, went even further during a briefing on Tuesday.  

Morrison said her office has been fielding many questions and concerns about people travelling to the Island to summer homes and cottages.

"Unless your primary residence is on Prince Edward Island, you should consider delaying coming to your cottage in P.E.I. until at least the end of May or until the COVID situation changes," Morrison said.

'This is starting to get really serious'

Ian Wallis also packed his bags about a month early and headed back to P.E.I. from Florida. He returned to the Island two weeks ago. 

Ian Wallis, with his wife Louise, says nobody was taking the pandemic seriously when they left Florida. (Submitted by Ian Wallis)

Wallis couldn't get to his cottage, which is on an unplowed road, so he's staying at a friend's place while they are in B.C. 

"The government of Canada on March 13 issued a global advisory, so it became more aware to us that 'wow, this is starting to get really serious,'" he said. "Where we were in Florida, nobody really was taking it seriously." 

Shane Pendergast should be in Toronto finishing his fourth year of studies in film production at York University.

But COVID-19 prompted him to pack his bags and head back to Tracadie Cross.

"It was sort of getting progressively more and more serious with this virus," said Pendergast.

"My family and I were sort of worried about, who knows what could come down the road in the coming weeks of how difficult it would be to get in between even interprovincial borders, so we figured it was safe enough to just pack it up and head home before it got too crazy." 

'Tried not to stop anywhere'

The 21-year-old is continuing his studies online from P.E.I. He has lots of time to focus on that since he's self-isolating for 14 days.

Shane Pendergast packed his bags early and left Toronto, where he is studying at York University, to return to Tracadie Cross. (Submitted by Shane Pendergast )
 

"My dad left at four in the morning. The whole trip was 36 hours. He showed up, we got in the car, and drove home and tried not to stop anywhere."   

The P.E.I. government has checkpoints in place at the Confederation Bridge and at the Charlottetown airport. 

Officials are asking questions and directing anyone coming from out of province to self-isolate for 14 days.

The screenings involve a series of health questions. If people are exhibiting symptoms, their contact information is taken and they are directed for testing.

Saliga-Farrell said she had a cousin pack her house with food before they came home so her and her husband are hunkered down for the next 14 days.

"Our only problem is the dog, he doesn't understand. He's 12 years old and he's had a walk every single day of his life and he doesn't understand. He thinks he's being punished."

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

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.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer and video journalist in print, digital and TV for more than 20 years. He can be reached at Wayne.Thibodeau@CBC.ca

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