P.E.I. schools, daycares to remain closed until at least May 11 in response to COVID-19

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer says Island schools and daycares will remain closed to in-person learning until at least May 11.

622 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the province as of Friday

Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says schools and daycares on P.E.I. will remain closed until at least May 11. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer says Island schools and daycares will remain closed to in-person learning until at least May 11.

She also recommended that non-essential businesses and government services remain closed indefinitely, and that only essential staff should be on-site.

"This is a pandemic ... this is not over," said Morrison. "We all want to get back to our normal, but this is the time we need to continue our public health measures and prepare our health care system for the weeks ahead.

"Let's do all we can to protect each other."

Premier Dennis King also joined Morrison on Friday. He said the Public Schools Branch and Department of Education are figuring out details on how to accommodate the school closures.

Schools and daycares

The province is also looking to set up daycares for the children of essential workers, like in health care, King said. 

He said the province is working to ensure that every available health care worker is on the frontlines and available to do their job as needed on a daily basis. 

"Essentially what we've been trying to do with the Early Childhood [Development] Association and others, is to try to identify some individuals who are prepared to come in and offer that service for those who need it the most," said King.

The premier said Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Brad Trivers will share more information on daycare services for essential workers either Friday or Saturday.

I continue to emphasize that everyone coming in will need to self-isolate for those 14 days.— Dr. Heather Morrison, chief public health officer

He also said Trivers will have more information on the next steps on continued learning with the public school closures on Monday.

"I believe it will include a lot of online learning, some home-based learning, some individualized learning," the premier said. "Recognizing, of course, that whatever we offer here won't be perfect, but trying to make the best out of a difficult situation."

'Unnecessary travel into P.E.I. is prohibited'

Morrison said still too many people are travelling in and out of the province and that people should only be travelling out of necessity.

"All unnecessary travel into P.E.I. is prohibited," she said. 

Morrison said the exemptions to this are out-of-province medical appointments, workers in the trade and transportation sector who are essential to the delivery of goods, health care and other essential workers commuting for work, and on compassionate grounds.

Commuting workers and those in the trade and transportation sector need to be healthy in order to come and go from the province.

Morrison advised that P.E.I.'s tourists and summer residents need to ensure they have the logistical support required for them to travel to the Island.

"You need to make sure there are people here in P.E.I. to support your arrival while you are in self-isolation for 14 days, and if not, you should stay home until you're able to do so," Morrison said.

"I continue to emphasize that everyone coming in will need to self-isolate for those 14 days."

National Emergency Strategic Stockpile clinic

The previously announced National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) mini-clinic is set up and near completion, Morrison said.

P.E.I.'s new mini-clinic is provided through the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile and is one of four across the country. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

The clinic will be available Saturday in Charlottetown. It will have a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic for those who have been screened through 811 and will offer a cough-and-fever clinic to the public by appointment.

An equivalent cough-and-fever clinic will be set up in Summerside next week, with more details on how to access the clinic coming later Friday. 

Morrison also warned against a phishing email claiming to be providing COVID-19 results. She reminded Islanders that all confirmation of testing results will be given over the phone by the Chief Public Health Office or public health nursing.

As of Friday, 622 COVID-19 tests have been conducted and 444 have come back negative.

9 cases, 1 recovered

In her two briefings on Thursday, Morrison first announced that one of the province's original cases is considered to be recovered, and then later announced that P.E.I. had four new cases — bringing the total to nine.

All four are men between 55 and 70 who travelled internationally and self-isolated upon return.

One travelled to the U.S., one to the Caribbean and two to Europe. There is no connection between the men and their flight info has not yet been shared, though Morrison said it should be shared online Friday.

"If it's not there already, it should be there shortly," she said.

In Friday's briefing, Morrison said there are still nine positive cases of COVID-19 in the province.

All of P.E.I.'s COVID-19 cases have been related to international travel.

More to come.

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 social distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Nicole Williams


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