PEI

P.E.I. confirms 2nd case of COVID-19

The second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on P.E.I., says Dr. Heather Morrison.

'I'm asking Islanders to have understanding, respect the self-isolation, respect the social distancing'

P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed Thursday a second case of COVID-19 in P.E.I. (CBC)

The second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on P.E.I., says Dr. Heather Morrison. The patient is a Queens County man in his 40s. He recently returned from the U.K. 

"I'm asking Islanders to have understanding, respect the self-isolation, respect the social distancing," said Morrison, adding that the province is trying to prevent the situation occurring in Italy and other parts of the world.

"If we look at what we know about this coronavirus and the mortality rate, if that were to happen on P.E.I. there would be 3,000 deaths," she said.

"I raise that because I want to emphasize the importance of following this guidance."

'We need to act now'

The man self-isolated immediately upon his return and called 811 when he developed mild symptoms. He was then brought in for testing on Monday and continued to self-isolate while awaiting the results.

Morrison spoke to the man directly Wednesday evening. He is doing well at home and any contacts he has had are being traced and people will be contacted, Morrison said.

She said this is a good example of why self-isolation is important — if he had not, he may have infected others in the community. 

"What we do know is that all the advice around the world is that we need to act now and do it quickly," Morrison said.

She said "if there is any need for the public to become concerned at all," more information about the man's travel will be shared.

If we look at what we know about this coronavirus and the mortality rate, if that were to happen on P.E.I. there would be 3,000 deaths.- Dr. Heather Morrison, chief public health officer

P.E.I. health officials previously alerted anyone who was on WestJet Flight 3440 on March 7 from Toronto to Moncton to self-isolate after it was confirmed that P.E.I.'s first case of COVID-19 was on that flight. 

An online self-assessment tool for people to figure out if they need to call 811 will be made available today, Morrison said.

Medical equipment

Health PEI's chief of nursing Marion Dowling said Thursday the health system is closely managing and conserving protective equipment for health-care staff in light of COVID-19. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

P.E.I.'s chief of nursing Marion Dowling also joined Morrison at Thursday's briefing and said there are currently 19 ventilators ready for use in the province.

There are 15 ventilators at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and four at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside, which she said is four to five times the ventilators normally required by Health PEI.

"Even if we were running our regular operations, we would have the capacity for ventilator services beyond and above what we would normally need," Dowling said.

She said the province is working with a vendor to purchase more ventilators, in addition to the request for 15 ventilators that has been made to the federal government.

Dowling said they are conserving supplies to ensure essential health-care workers are protected and able to give care. She said there are enough swabs and protective equipment for screenings.

Dialysis, stroke, and emergency services are still available and people are encouraged to call ahead if they have any questions about their appointments. 

There have been a total of 122 negative tests and two positives to date, said Morrison, and testing is still being focused on people with symptoms who have travelled in the past two weeks.

Liquor store closures

The Oak Tree Place Liquor Store in Charlottetown, P.E.I., earlier Thursday. The stores closed at 2 p.m. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Regarding the closure of liquor stores, Morrison said she has worked with many Islanders with alcohol-use disorder and said she realizes it impacts many people on P.E.I.

Government-run liquor stores will close, but further details on alternate access is coming soon.

"We all live here and this is hard on all of us, these decisions that we're making, but it is our chance to get it right," Morrison said.

"This is why we're here every day ... and I think we're going to get this right."

Essential services

Signs like this are cropping up all over the city and many parts of the Island. All non-essential services were ordered to close earlier this week. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

Morrison said the province has reached out to grocery stores about adding appropriate hand-washing stations at entrances.

She also advised that instead of bringing the whole family to the store, one person should go. No one who is feeling sick or showing any symptoms should go out in order to protect staff and shoppers.

Morrison said many grocery stores are offering extra time for seniors and the most vulnerable, and she continues to encourage that.

She again emphasized the need for Islanders to stay home whenever possible.

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.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

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.

With files from Sam Juric, Malcolm Campbell, Sara Fraser and Brittany Spencer

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