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Fitzgerald not worried about trickle of Newfoundland cases from Alberta

Fitzgerald
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. - Telegram file photo
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Thursday the number of COVID-19 cases trickling into Newfoundland and Labrador from Alberta is not alarming, and is largely related to worksite outbreaks announced over the past three weeks.

“Some of those cases — not all, but some — were all related to the same outbreak within a workplace, so that certainly reduces the risk,” she told reporters Thursday. “They’re not all coming from different places.”

Fitzgerald didn’t specify, but the most recent reported workplace outbreak occurred at the CNR Horizons Oil Sands site and was announced Oct. 18.

“As of right now, there does not appear to be concern about increased risk from Alberta,” she said, adding that Alberta accounts for a significant portion of returning travellers. “Of course, we’re concerned about risk from everywhere across the country right now, but not in particular from Alberta.”

Flight alerts

Thursday’s appearance by Fitzgerald and Health Minister Dr. John Haggie was held to make up for curtailed reporters questions during Wednesday’s briefings because of a technical glitch.

The two officials addressed questions on a variety of topics, including how and why specific flight alerts are occasionally issued by Public Health.

“We are the only jurisdiction until very recently that actually published flight information for arrivals into Newfoundland and Labrador," Haggie said.

However, he said, that’s easier to do when a traveller tests positive for COVID-19 after arriving in this province.

“If there are legs (of a flight) that involve travellers getting off in other jurisdictions, we don’t really have a lot of insight into that through the mechanisms at the moment,” he said.

He added that airlines don’t provide their passenger manifests for privacy reasons.

Information on cases and flights in other jurisdictions is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Stationary Santa

Asked about COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for Christmas, Fitzgerald said not to expect them to be posted until the week of Nov. 9. She did, however, endorse the idea of a reverse Santa Claus parade, in which viewers would drive by floats that remain stationary.

“A drive-by parade would be one way to do that,” she said.

Health Minister Dr. John Haggie
Health Minister Dr. John Haggie

 

Flu shots

Between community clinics and pharmacists, Haggie said about 80,000 flu shots were booked in the first 10 days since they were offered this month.

The minister said he's cautiously optimistic the province will approach its goal of 85 per cent vaccination, but it's no time to be complacent.

Incubation vs. recovery

Fitzgerald also clarified the timelines for someone who is quarantining as a precaution as opposed to someone who is recovering from the disease.

Under most circumstances, a person must quarantine for 14 days, which is considered the outside window of how long it takes for the coronavirus to incubate (cause symptoms).

However, a person who has the disease and whose symptoms have resolved within 10 days of first appearing is considered recovered.

That means the time in isolation can theoretically be less for someone with the disease than someone without.

“If they’ve already got COVID, they’ve already got COVID,” Fitzgerald said. “The incubation is already past. The whole point of the quarantine period is to wait out the possible incubation period of the virus. So if you’ve tested positive for it, that’s done.”


Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram

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