No new COVID-19 cases on P.E.I, and some restrictions could end by Friday
First boxes of vaccines have arrived, initial shots will be administered Wednesday
P.E.I. has no new cases of COVID-19, Dr. Heather Morrison announced at her regular Tuesday news briefing — and if all goes well, some recently imposed public health restrictions could be eased by Friday.
For example, Morrison said there could be more people allowed at personal and organized gatherings. Restaurant dining rooms and fitness facilities could reopen with restrictions such as curfews in place, and recreational sports could resume in a modified format.
She said she hopes those new restrictions would stay in place until Jan. 11.
The four high schools that have moved to online learning could return to in-person classes after the Christmas break, she said, but any decision would be in consultation with the Public Schools Branch.
Wednesday will mark nine months since P.E.I. declared a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19, Premier Dennis King noted at the briefing.
There have been many high and low points since then, he said, and Islanders have done their part to keep the infection rate low.
The province's first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have now arrived on the Island and vaccination is set to begin Wednesday, strictly on an appointment basis at first.
"We are turning an important corner," King said of the vaccine's arrival, calling it "a sign that we are on the road to a better place."
Health PEI chief of nursing Marion Dowling agreed: "Today is a really good day and tomorrow will be even better."
A provincial news release says the first dose of vaccine on P.E.I. will be administered at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday "to a front-line health-care worker from the long-term care sector."
Circuit breaker still in effect
On Dec. 6, a series of public health restrictions were announced to close off some possible routes for the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants could no longer offer dining room service, recreational sports came to a halt, and organized gatherings were restricted to 10 people or less, including church services.
King said the "circuit breaker" set of restrictions "has accomplished what it was designed to do…. We have had some success."
He said restrictions will not be lifted all at once but will ease gradually, adding, "we can't and we won't snap back to where we were" before they were imposed.
Morrison said 16 people are still recovering from their COVID-19 infections, and 110 contacts of those diagnosed recently are being followed daily.
P.E.I. has recorded 89 cases since the pandemic began. There have been no hospitalizations and no deaths.
Just under 62 per cent of Island cases involved males, and 80 per cent of all cases were diagnosed in people aged 20 to 59.
Reminder of symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
- Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
- Sore throat.
- New or worsening fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.