COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening the week of Aug. 23

P.E.I. reported five new cases of COVID-19 Friday, in a news release.

5 new cases reported, and masks will be mandatory on buses and in school hallways

Students attend class at Bloomfield Elementary School in P.E.I. early in the last school year. P.E.I.'s new back-to-school plan has received mixed reactions this week. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Prince Edward Island reported five new cases of COVID-19 Friday.

One person is in their 30s, three are in their 20s and one person is under 10. All recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said in a news release.

The CPHO has also issued a potential public exposure notice. A person from Atlantic Canada, who was recently on P.E.I., tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home. The CPHO said the person may have been able to transmit the coronavirus while on the Island. The potential exposure occurred at the Cork and Cast restaurant on Weymouth Street in Charlottetown on Wednesday, Aug. 25 between 1 and 3:30 p.m.

The latest vaccination numbers released Thursday show 79.6 per cent of eligible Islanders have two doses, and 91 per cent have at least one dose.

There are now eight active cases on P.E.I. There have been 230 cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

School masking requirements

Prince Edward Island's Public Schools Branch and La Commission scolaire de langue française say they are taking the advice of P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office, and will require masks for students and staff on buses and in some parts of schools this fall, a written news release said Friday.

Students will be permitted to remove their masks when seated in classrooms. 

This, after the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation said Wednesday it would like to see some mandatory mask recommendations in the province's back-to-school plan. 

The Chief Public Health Office's back-to-school plan recommends some masking until at least October, with a promise that recommendations will change if there is a large enough rise in community transmission.

Others had also expressed concern about the plan including the P.E.I. Home and School Federation, Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Heather Morrison mentioned in her briefing Tuesday that she and her team and their partners have faced "inappropriate, bullying, demeaning" comments and behaviour, but did not specify what those were.

UPEI, Holland College make vaccines mandatory

Holland College said Wednesday it's making vaccines mandatory for students and staff. The post-secondary school made the announcement a day after the University of Prince Edward Island made the same decision.

Both institutions said they decided to make the move after consultations with the Chief Public Health Office. 

The schools say exemptions to the mandate will be granted based on medical, religious or cultural reasons. Exempted people would have to undergo weekly testing and wear masks at all times.

6 new cases last week

P.E.I.'s Public Health office reported six new cases of COVID-19 last week.

The province announced on Saturday that three new people had tested positive for the disease. All those people had recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada.

Two flight notifications were issued, one for WestJet flight WS330 from Toronto to Charlottetown on Thursday, Aug. 19, and another for Air Canada flight 634 from Toronto to Charlottetown departing on Aug. 19 and arriving Aug. 20.

Officials have also identified the following flights and places as potential exposure sites:

Unvaccinated people who were at those places during the specified times are being told to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate while they await the results. All individuals at risk of having been exposed, including those who have been vaccinated, should monitor for symptoms.

Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada

  • New Brunswick reported 16 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and has 160 active cases.   
  • Nova Scotia confirmed nine new cases Friday. Another person has recovered, raising the active case count to 55.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, marking the highest disclosure of new cases in six weeks. The province now has 14 active cases.

Also in the news

  • 45 per cent of departing Health P.E.I. staff who took part in exit surveys cited a "toxic workplace" as one of their main reasons for leaving the provincial health authority, and COVID-19 restrictions have exacerbated retention issues, a report found. 

  • P.E.I. veterinarians say they've been feeling strained due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau praised Islanders for their vaccination efforts during a campaign stop in Cornwall on Sunday.
  • The federal election returning offices in P.E.I.'s four ridings are up and running, with COVID protocols in place. More people are expected to vote by mail this election because of the pandemic.

These Islanders are currently eligible for a vaccine

  • People over 12.
  • Islanders over 18 can book an appointment to receive the Moderna vaccine at a pharmacy.
  • You can find more information about how to get a vaccine here.

Further resources

Reminder about symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
  • Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • New or worsening fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.

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