Islanders travelling out of country urged to take coronavirus precautions

As March break approaches, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office is advising Islanders travelling outside of Canada to take precautions and to closely monitor their health for 14 days after returning home.

'To protect those who are more vulnerable in our communities'

Dr. Heather Morrison updates journalists on the province's latest advice on COVID-19 at a news conference Monday. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

As March break approaches, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office is advising Islanders travelling outside of Canada to take precautions and closely monitor their health for 14 days after returning home, even if they are feeling well.

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. The World Health Organization said Monday the number of COVID-19 cases has topped 100,000, with cases identified in more than 100 countries around the world. Canada recorded its first COVID-19-related death, and Canada's chief public health officer recommended Canadians avoid cruise travel.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer advised people to be cautious after returning from outside the country. 

"Even if you do not have symptoms, avoid large gatherings and refrain from visiting elderly people or anyone with underlying medical conditions for two weeks upon your return," Dr. Heather Morrison said.

The recommendations are being made "to protect those who are more vulnerable in our communities," she said.

"What we're talking about there is really — other people have referred to it as social distancing — refraining from some of our typical greetings."

Advised to call 811

Morrison advised returning travellers to call 811 if they experience any new symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. 

She said planning is underway for potential increased testing of Islanders returning from out-of-country travel, which includes setting up two locations for COVID-19 swab testing for Islanders experiencing symptoms.

To prepare for the potential effects COVID-19 could have on the province, a special group made up of representatives from several government departments and agencies has been assembled. 

March break is next week on P.E.I. On Monday, health officials sent a note to parents who are travelling with their children to consider health insurance and check the risk status of their destination in regards to COVID-19. 

"Schools and families are encouraged to visit the advisory site to help guide their decision on whether to continue with or cancel travel plans," the notice from Health and Wellness said. 

"We recommend that you plan for having a lower threshold to stay home from work or school than you normally would with a mild illness, and think ahead about child care options for sick children that would not put them in close contact with other people."


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 from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Kerry Campbell