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Newfoundland and Labrador marks two weeks of no new COVID-19 cases

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball. (image from video)
N.L. Premier Dwight Ball. — YouTube screenshot

Only four active cases remain — three of which are being treated in hospital




ST. JOHN'S — Provincial leaders were on the defensive Thursday as reporters questioned the relatively tectonic pace of COVID-19 reopenings in Newfoundland and Labrador compared to the rest of Canada.

The provincial plan to relax emergency health measures is slower than those in most other provinces, a fact highlighted by a Canadian Federation of Independent Business snapshot that found only 22 per cent of businesses here are operating, the lowest in the country.

“We want to get our business community opened up, too, but we want to prevent further setbacks in the future which could hurt businesses even more,” Premier Dwight Ball said during the COVID-19 briefing.



The province has now gone 14 days without any new COVID-19 cases. There are only four known active cases — three of them in hospital. Three people have died.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald was asked why Newfoundland’s reopening plans seem much slower than those in other provinces, given medical officers across the country consult regularly.

“I can’t speak to what information other provinces have used and what has gone into their decision-making plans,” she said, “but we made the decisions that we thought were best for the province with regard to the prevention of COVID-19 spread with the information that we had at the time.”

She said she feels she has explained the rationale adequately.

“I think we have explained why people have to follow this guidance to reduce the risk and I think people have listened and they’ve done a good job with that.”


Narrative Research asked Canadian residents to indicate their confidence in the leadership of their Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health to combat COVID-19.
Narrative Research asked Canadian residents to indicate their confidence in the leadership of their Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health to combat COVID-19.


A Narrative Research online poll released Thursday found Newfoundland and Labrador rated highest in the country when it came to confidence in public health measures, at 89 per cent. The poll, conducted in April, queried 1,231 Canadians and did not offer a margin of error.

Alert Level 3 in the province does not kick in until June 11, 28 days after Alert Level 4 was implemented. The number is based on two maximum incubation periods for the coronavirus.

Health Minister Dr. John Haggie said one of the main reasons for the gradual pace is the province’s demographic. There are more old people in the province, as well as more people with diabetes, the highest complicating factor for anyone who catches COVID-19.

“If you add those facts together, 28 days is a reasonable period to make sure, from a provincial point of view, you’re as good as you can be for this first increment,” he said.

The premier added his own perspective.

“We’ve had 6,000 deaths of Canadians,” he said. “If we were sitting at a table three months ago and saying within three months there’s going to be 6,000 Canadians pass away from COVID-19 in Canada, I think that would have been alarming news, but that’s essentially what’s happened here. So we will open up the economy, but we must do it when it’s safe to do so and we must plan for it and be prepared if we have a setback. This is not about being resistant or being stubborn, this is about making sure we put public health and safety first.”


#GovNL has officially moved the #COVID19 Alert Level to Level 4. For information on what that means, visit:...

Posted by Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday, May 11, 2020

Travel ban

The panel offered little response Thursday to news that a threatened lawsuit by a woman who was initially refused entry into the province after her mother died has officially been filed.

The CBC has reported lawyers are working pro bono and that no damages are being sought in the challenge of the province’s ban on non-essential visitors.

However, Haggie said the province’s measures are not much different than those in other eastern provinces, where, he says, several Canadian citizens have also been refused entry.

“Our travel restrictions are nowhere near as harsh as Quebec’s or P.E.I.’s or New Brunswick’s,” he said.



He offered no speculation on what a loss in the courts would mean for limiting border traffic.

“I think that would be for the court to decide.”

The premier did respond to a query about a controversial opinion column by Brian Jones published Wednesday in The Telegram under the headline “Pandemic is an extended holiday for public-sector workers.”

“This is not a holiday for public-sector workers,” he replied. “Many of them are working very hard to provide services to people in Newfoundland and Labrador.”


In other developments Thursday:

  • Ball said the province will issue a fiscal update within the next two weeks.
  • The premier urged businesses who need to establish guidelines for reopening to consult the business response team by calling 1-833-771-0696 or emailing covid19info@gov.nl.ca.
  •  Ball also congratulated organizers of today’s Islaview Day in Corner Brook, who moved to a virtual format to celebrate this year’s commemoration of an inspirational child cancer victim named Isla Short.

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


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