PEI

'One bad decision' away from serious outbreak on P.E.I., Morrison warns

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison warned Islanders to take heed of what is happening in Nova Scotia in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic during her regular public briefing Tuesday.

'What is happening in Nova Scotia could easily occur in P.E.I.,' chief public health officer says

Dr. Heather Morrison said she agreed when a team member told her recently: 'I have never been so worried since the pandemic began.' (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is warning Islanders to take heed of what is happening in Nova Scotia in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What is happening in Nova Scotia could easily occur in P.E.I.," Morrison said during her regular public briefing Tuesday.

"If one person with COVID-19 were to arrive here, whether an Island resident returning home from travel, a visitor or a worker, and choose not be to tested and break the self-isolation rules, [it] could result in a serious outbreak of COVID-19 before we know it."

Such an outbreak happened swiftly in Nova Scotia this month.

A week ago, that province was recording fewer than 10 cases a day, but it has now confirmed 275 cases since Saturday. Officials there responded by closing schools and restaurant dining rooms, limiting gatherings to five people, and urging residents not to travel within Nova Scotia unless it is absolutely necessary.

"We are one bad decision away from imposing restrictions that could have a significant impact on the lives of all Islanders and our provincial economy," said Morrison.

She urged Islanders to not travel to the mainland unless it is absolutely necessary.

Morrison also said that Islanders who are travelling within the region (except for those qualifying for one-day travel exemptions) will now be subject to the same testing requirement as those coming from outside Atlantic Canada. That means they will need to be tested three times during their two weeks of isolation. 

Variants of concern

Morrison noted the third wave of the pandemic has had the biggest impact on Canadians, including those living on P.E.I.

In the last two weeks, the province saw its first admissions to hospital with COVID-19. Those two patients have since been released.

Morrison expressed particular concern with the appearance of the B117 variant, which was first seen in the U.K.

"The variants of concern are more virulent, spread more quickly," she said.

P.E.I. has identified 13 cases of B117 so far, which is 70 per cent of recent cases.

There are currently 585 active cases of COVID-19 in Atlantic Canada. Morrison compared that to just five cases when the Atlantic bubble first opened on July 3, allowing freer travel with in the region, and the 205 active cases when the bubble closed at the end of November.

Morrison said a member of her team recently said that they had not been so worried since the pandemic began, and she said she agreed.

Morrison did note that there were no new cases to report on the Island Tuesday, and the active case count remains at 11 after two new cases were added Monday. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

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