Another 2 COVID-19 cases on P.E.I., more groups eligible for vaccine

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is reporting two new cases of COVID-19, one of them in a young person who was a close contact of a previous case.

5 related cases reported since Friday, and 3 of them involve people under 19

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, says it's important to get tested for COVID-19 even with mild symptoms. (CBC)

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison reported two new cases of COVID-19 at her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning.

The province is currently dealing with a small cluster of COVID-19 cases, and one of the two new cases was connected to that cluster.

The two new cases are both in people under the age of 19, one male, one female. The female was a close contact of someone in the cluster. The case of the male is still under investigation, but may be related to regional travel, Morrison told the briefing.

The province has announced eight new cases since Friday.

"In total, there are five cases that are linked together," said Morrison. "We are confident these cases were detected early and there is no evidence of widespread community transmission.

"Had these cases gone undetected for even another day or two we would be dealing, I think, with a very different situation."

This situation highlights the importance of getting tested early, said Morrison, even if your symptoms are mild, and also reinforces the need to be retested if symptoms persist, because several of the recent cases on P.E.I. tested negative initially.

Morrison noted that 54 people have been identified as close contacts of at least one currently positive case, and are in isolation. Of those, 39 are children, she said, meaning that a parent is required to isolate with them. 

P.E.I. has had 152 cases of COVID-19 since its first one was diagnosed in March 2020, with eight currently considered active. There have been no deaths and no hospitalizations.

More groups eligible for vaccine

The briefing was also updated on COVID-19 vaccine plans for the Island, with Morrison saying things are going so well that she thinks every adult will be eligible to get at least one dose before her previous target date of the end of June. 

Morrison said 18,632 vaccine doses have been administered as of Saturday, including 5,622 second doses. That means 13,010 people have received at least one dose — many of them over the age of 80, she added. 

Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s chief of nursing, says anyone 60-69 with underlying health issues can begin booking vaccination appointments on Thursday. (CBC)

Starting Thursday, people aged 18-29 who work in any job where they have contact with the public and cannot work from home will become eligible to make vaccine appointments. 

Also beginning Thursday, Islanders 60 to 69 with specific medical conditions including the following can start to book appointments, along with their primary caregivers: 

  • Organ recipients and those on dialysis.
  • People with certain types of cancer.
  • Those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis.
  • Those with developmental conditions such as Down's syndrome.

The full list of specific medical conditions can be found here.

Starting Monday, the COVID-19 vaccine booking system will be open to people 65-69 whose birthdays are in the first three months of the year, chief of nursing Marion Dowling said. 

Every day that follows next week, people with birthdays in the next three months can start to book, so that by Thursday all months of the year are covered.

New five-year age cohorts will follow in the weeks to come, Dowling said. 

She took the opportunity to urge people to use the online system to book vaccine appointments, since the province's phone line can become swamped and does not operate on Sundays. 

Reminder about symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
  • Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • New or worsening fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.

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