No new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for P.E.I. Thursday

P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison reported that there were no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the province Thursday.

Both of the province's hospitals are at 50% capacity, down from 100% last month.

Dr. Heather Morrison said there were no new positive test results for COVID-19 in P.E.I. on Thursday. (Ken Linton/CBC)

P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison reported that there were no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the province Thursday.

Morrison announced the province's 25th case late in the day Wednesday. On Thursday Morrison said the man in his 50s is from Queens County and is at home and doing well. This is the province's first case related to interprovincial travel.

She said the man arrived back to the province towards the end of March while the directive was still to self-monitor for symptoms. He did not self-isolate immediately, but began to self-isolate when he developed symptoms.

Morrison said her team has begun the contact tracing process with anyone he was in contact with — and they will all be followed up with and tested. She described his contact with other people as "very limited."

"They may have gone to a relative's house, for instance," she said.

The chief public health officer also said that Wednesday another individual was charged and fined $1,000 for failing to self-isolate.

Morrison said officials are continuing to turn cars away at the Confederation Bridge. 

Easter 'a special occasion in a different way'

Morrison raised concerns about Islanders staying home and only going out for essentials, even with the Easter long weekend and storm approaching.

"I know this weekend has traditionally meant gatherings and big get-togethers, and this year, it won't be the same, but it doesn't mean you cannot connect with your loved ones and make it a special occasion in a different way," Morrison said.

Morrison said P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue will have a presence in provincial parks to ensure people follow proper distancing measures. She said she believes Islanders will respect these directions and she is not interested in giving out fines to people in public spaces at this time, as is the case in Nova Scotia.

Medical system preparedness 

Early last week, Health PEI's chief of nursing Marion Dowling ​​​​​​ had said that P.E.I. would be receiving 26 new ventilators as part of the province's access to the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. Thursday she said they have not arrived and the federal government is now prioritizing the allocation of ventilators to regions with significant numbers of hospitalizations. 

P.E.I. has not had any hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

"Thanks to our public health measures here, so far we have not seen that. I don't have a confirmed date on when some of those ventilators may arrive," she said, adding the province hasn't been in need of ventilators yet either. 

Dowling said she's feeling confident in the preparedness of the medical system, and it has been able to achieve a 50 per cent capacity rates at the province's hospitals in Charlottetown and Summerside. Last month, Dowling had said the capacity was at 100 per cent and Health PEI was aiming for 75 per cent.

"That gives us a lot of space to be able to manage hospitalizations of patients," Dowling said, adding  there is also room to add up to 40 new ICU beds. 

Increasing local testing

Morrison said P.E.I.'s testing has increased in the past week and half, including expanding testing criteria, resulting in an increase in testing per capita. 

She said the province's tests per one million people is slightly above the Canadian average.

Premier Dennis King has expressed his concern over the speed at which tests were returning from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, which resulted in Morrison having no results to report on Tuesday. 

Morrison has said increasing local analysis capabilities on tests from within the province will mean fewer delays in getting results back, as the province could identify presumptive cases locally and send only those tests on to Winnipeg.

Morrison said P.E.I. anticipates releasing the province's pandemic modelling projections in the days ahead. 

P.E.I. currently has 25 positive cases of COVID-19, 17 of which are considered to be recovered. 

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 from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Malcolm Campbell


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