PEI

Committee questions Morrison on COVID response, Canadian bubble

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison was asked about P.E.I.'s response to COVID-19, including why the province is still choosing to keep most of the country out.

'It seems like there is a huge list of people you are letting in'

'Testing does not replace quarantine or self-isolation and we know that certainly from our cases here that have tested positive very late into their quarantine,' said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison when answering a question about opening up to the rest of Canada. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said growing case numbers in other parts of the country make the risks of a Canadian bubble too great for P.E.I.

Morrison was answering questions from MLAs at a legislative standing committee on health and social development Wednesday.

Morrison was asked about P.E.I.'s response to COVID-19, including why the province is still choosing to keep most of the country out, during the meeting with MLAs.

"You have continually opened the scope for people you have allowed," said Green MLA Ole Hammarlund. 

The province has made several exceptions since closing its borders because of COVID-19.

They include Atlantic Canadians, seasonal residents and their families, both Canadian and international university students, essential workers and those with family members that live on P.E.I.

"It seems like there is a huge list of people you are letting in. Why are the few that are not on the list, not allowed?" Hammarlund asked.

'Testing does not replace quarantine'

With the exception of Atlantic Canadians and some essential workers, everyone has to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.

Morrison said most people wanting to come here only want to do so if they don't have to self-isolate and right now that continues to be out of the question. 

All of P.E.I.'s COVID-19 cases have been travel related. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"Testing does not replace quarantine or self-isolation and we know that certainly from our cases here that have tested positive very late into their quarantine," she said. 

"We know that from the evidence that a test on one day when you arrive does not mean you will not spread the virus two days later."

Rule will stay for now

So far, all of P.E.I.'s COVID-19 cases have been travel related. With an increase in cases in some areas of the country, Morrison said the risk of involving P.E.I. in a Canadian bubble is too great to take right now.

"We're hearing from some who would like to see relatives in particular without having to self-isolate. I think we are also hearing that the majority of Islanders are concerned about the Canadian bubble," Morrison told CBC News after the meeting.

Morrison said the two-week self-isolation rule will continue for now for Canadians outside of the Atlantic bubble and international travellers, but it is something her team talks about daily.

"We're facing the decision from a public health point of view, on the epidemiology here, Atlantic Canada and across the country," she said.

"We know how quickly we could get community transmission. It would not take a huge amount or a huge number of outbreaks to overwhelm our system, so it's trying to balance that going forward."

More from CBC P.E.I.

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