PEI

Vaccines keeping P.E.I. open, says Morrison

P.E.I. appears to be coming out the other side of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says we can thank vaccines for managing it without imposing stricter public health restrictions.

Number of active COVID-19 cases falls to 29

Without vaccines, the number of cases of COVID-19 would have been 'tremendously higher' in November, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. (CBC)

P.E.I. appears to be coming out the other side of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says we can thank vaccines for managing it without imposing stricter public health restrictions.

"If we'd had this number of cases this time last year, we would have probably been in a circuit breaker of some kind," Morrison said in a briefing Tuesday.

"The rate of vaccination and our ability to protect people because of vaccines is helping us not go into the same kinds of measures as we had last year. As we go into December we're hoping not to have to make any adjustments. A lot [of that is] because we know the vaccines are working."

Morrison announced one new case, and a total of 29 active cases. That's down from 35. Active cases fell from 37 on the weekend, the first drop since Oct. 27.

The new case is connected to a known case, and the person had been self-isolating.

Vaccines helped keep spike in check, says Morrison

Morrison said without vaccines, the recent spike would have led to "tremendously higher" case numbers.

"I am so pleased that we have a high vaccination rate because it is protecting us from severe illness and death," she said.

Morrison's comments came just about one year after the Atlantic bubble, a free travel zone throughout Atlantic Canada, burst on Nov. 24, 2020.

Cases were rising across Atlantic Canada, and P.E.I. announced a two-week suspension of the bubble. The bubble, however, never came back with quite the same freedom of movement.

Preparing for omicron

The province is considering new measures to control the spread of the new omicron variant of COVID-19, Morrison said.

Those discussions are complicated by the lack of information about the variant.

"Are we doing everything we can to protect Islanders when we don't know everything yet about this variant and how effective our vaccine is against it," she said.

All P.E.I. cases are being screened for what variant they are, she said, and no cases of omicron have yet been found on the Island.

Testing will be key, she said, particularly for international travellers. New measures being considered include following up with international travellers to ensure they have taken a second PCR test on day four to eight after arriving on the Island.

The Chief Public Health Office is also considering some restrictions on those new arrivals, such as keeping them from their workplace and from long-term care facilities until they have received a second negative test.

The province is watching to see what restrictions the federal government might put on international borders as well, she said.

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