PEI

All passengers on March 11 Air Canada Flight 7564 asked to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure

Dr. Heather Morrison is asking passengers on Air Canada Flight 7564 from Toronto to Charlottetown March 11 to self-isolate until March 25, after it was confirmed that P.E.I.'s second case of COVID-19 was on that flight.

All passengers asked to self-isolate until March 25 and monitor for symptoms

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison asked Islanders Friday to donate blood and not to stockpile medications. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Dr. Heather Morrison is asking passengers on Air Canada Flight 7564 from Toronto to Charlottetown March 11 to self-isolate until March 25, after it was confirmed that P.E.I.'s second case of COVID-19 was on that flight.

The flight departed Toronto at 9:20 a.m. and landed in Charlottetown at 12:28 p.m. Morrison said the patient, a Queens County man in his 40s who was returning from the U.K., was not showing symptoms at the time.

In Friday's press briefing, Morrison originally said only international travellers were being asked to self-isolate. That decision was later revised.

"Passengers on the flight are asked to self-isolate for the remaining 14 days from when they returned and monitor their symptoms," said officials in an email.

The amended recommendation only applies to regional travellers on the flight, as those who travelled internationally after March 8 should already have been in self-isolation. 

On Tuesday, passengers on WestJet Flight 3440 on March 7 from Toronto to Moncton were all asked to self-isolate after it was announced that P.E.I.'s first case of COVID-19 was on the flight. 

In the briefing, Morrison also asked Islanders to consider donating blood if they are eligible and not self-isolating.

"Our national supply of blood products is very important, especially at a time where current events may impact our inventory in the country, and giving blood can save lives," she said. 

No stockpiling

Morrison said Islanders shouldn't be stockpiling medications and people feeling ill shouldn't be going to pharmacies.

"Please speak with your pharmacist about accessing a reasonable supply of medication," she said.

"This is not a dress rehearsal." 

'Not just adults'

Morrison stressed the importance of social distancing and maintaining two metres of space when it comes to children. 

"This is new for all of us, and we're trying to make it clear for everyone," she said

Morrison said it is important for kids to go outside and play, but they need to do it safely.

I cannot stress enough the importance of finding new ways of engaging with each other— Dr. Heather Morrison, chief public health officer

Sports that require people to be close to each other, like basketball, should not be happening.

She said sleepovers are not a good social distancing activity.

"Children can get sick and they can transmit the virus to others in the community, so it's not just adults that need to practise social distancing," she said.

Morrison said social distancing is not a loose recommendation, it is required at this time.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of finding new ways of engaging with each other that does not involve that close in-person contact," Morrison said.

"I say that, and somehow it's hard to say and give that message, knowing that we want to hold our children and … play together, but this is not the time for that to happen in the same way."

Morrison clarified that you do not need to practise social distancing from your own partners, children and families in your household.

Coming out of retirement

Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s chief of nursing, said the province is close to meeting its goal of having hospitals beds at 75 per cent occupancy.

Health PEI's chief of nursing Marion Dowling called on retired health-care workers and volunteers to help out during this pandemic. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

They are doing this by moving suitable patients to long-term care beds in other facilities across the province.

She also spoke about the province looking for more help from retired health-care workers. She said 27 retired registered nurses have expressed interest, 13 of which have continued to work casually for Health PEI.

In a news briefing Thursday evening, Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward said they're working closely with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of P.E.I., the College of Registered Nurses of P.E.I. and the medical society to expedite licence renewals for any workers coming out of retirement.

Dowling said they are seeking clinical and non-clinical workers, such as cleaning staff, and they will be reaching out to students as well.

"There are many roles to play in our response to the COVID-19, especially as we prepare for a potential surge in patients needing care," she said.

"Retired health-care workers will be assigned to duties that fall within their qualifications and skills and knowledge level."

Anyone interested is asked to call 902-368-4927.

She also said testing in Charlottetown and Summerside is continuing, seven days a week.

As of Friday morning, 240 tests have been completed, Morrison said, with 167 negative and 71 still pending. There are still only two confirmed cases on P.E.I. 

When we were talking about the children here earlier, I found that hard to read because I miss mine.— Dr. Heather Morrison, chief public health officer

On the topic of interprovincial travel, Morrison did not rule out the possibility of closing the airport and Confederation Bridge.

She said the bridge is important not only for goods and supplies, but that in the event the airport does close, Islanders would have to fly into Moncton and Halifax and drive home. 

She also said closing the bridge would have to involve discussions between Transport Canada and the provinces.

'It's hard'

Morrison said the situation has been challenging for her personally as she navigates this crisis. 

She said it's hard and it will continue to be hard, and said unintended impacts on society concern her most.

"I'm most concerned about the people who are sick, who may get sick. I'm worried about how we reduce that number of people who will be ill and have bad outcomes," she said.

"It absolutely can take an impact on me and even when we were talking about the children here earlier, I found that hard to read because I miss mine."

Though she is not on social media, Morrison said she appreciates the outpour of support she has received.

"I thank Islanders for their support," she said

"I appreciate it. I am thankful, and I hope we all together get through this, these weeks ahead."

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.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story misidentified the Air Canada flight number as flight 756. In fact, it is flight 7564.
    Mar 20, 2020 2:08 PM AT

About the Author

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

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