PEI

Who will be tested for COVID-19 on P.E.I. under expanded criteria?

P.E.I. now has the capacity to do up to 2,000 COVID-19 tests a week, says Dr. Heather Morrison.

'We're in such a fortunate position that we have the capacity here'

An Ontario nurse holds a completed COVID-19 test kit on its way to the laboratory. (Erik White/CBC )

P.E.I. now has the capacity to do up to 2,000 COVID-19 tests a week, says Dr. Heather Morrison.

The capacity to run tests locally, instead of sending all results to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, means the province can run more tests and therefore expand upon who is eligible for COVID-19 testing. 

"We are looking closely at how to increase our testing here on Prince Edward Island and it will be key, along with strong screening measures at our points of entry, that we have this in place before we start easing back other restrictions," Morrison said.

The chief public health officer said her team and the laboratory team met yesterday to discuss new criteria for screening and additional groups that could be tested. 

"We'll be updating and looking at these guidelines and the criteria around them," she said.

Currently P.E.I. is testing:

  • Any person with a new onset of cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose or marked fatigue, regardless of travel history.
  • Admitted patients or those in the ICU with any respiratory symptoms.
  • Health-care providers with symptoms.
  • Residents being admitted to long-term care facilities.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities with symptoms.
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities who are close contacts of a case.
  • Temporary foreign workers. 
  • Contacts of cases.

Morrison said the province is now also expanding testing to:

  • Long-haul truckers who reside in P.E.I.
  • Any Island resident returning from international travel.
  • Health-care providers who have travelled outside the province.
  • Staff who work at multiple long-term care facilities.

'Fortunate position'

Morrison said she believes the new criteria will be put in place by the end of Thursday, and that they're taking these proactive steps in order to sooner identify, isolate and contact-trace positive cases.

"We'll be continuing to look at who should be tested, but I think that it's really a good discussion and we're in such a fortunate position that we have the capacity here," Morrison said. 

"This will make us probably one of the most broad criteria for testing, I would suggest, in the country."

She said staff working at multiple long-term care facilities would undergo regular testing to mitigate the spread of coronavirus to multiple locations, as will health-care workers who commute from out of province. 

"I'm sure that health-care providers will be interested in having this available, so that they can protect their patients and of course their families and co-workers," Morrison said.

She said her office will be working with Health PEI to contact those who could now be tested under expanded criteria, though much of the travel-related data is already available through information collected from travellers at the entry points to the province. 

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

Nicola MacLeod is a reporter with CBC in P.E.I.

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