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Screening will be stringent for seasonal residents, says P.E.I.'s top doctor

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, outlines the provinces precautions for letting in seasonal residents at the May 28 media briefing.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, outlines the provinces precautions for letting in seasonal residents at the May 28 media briefing. - Contributed



The province has provided details on how it plans to allow seasonal residents to return to P.E.I., including a timeline, who can come and stringent screening procedures.

Premier Dennis King, speaking at the May 28 news briefing in Charlottetown, reassured Islanders that the decision to allow seasonal residents into the province was based on evidence and will be carried out with guidance from the chief public health office.

“One of the key factors in the decision to start with seasonal residents was because it is a population that is defined and known to the province,” said the premier.

“They would be more likely to have support systems in place, such as family and friends, to help assist them with their isolation plans and they are all able to return to their seasonal homes where they can quarantine for 14 days.”

Dr. Heather Morrison, chief public health officer for P.E.I., said screening seasonal residents will be stringent and continuously evaluated. 

Seasonal residents will have to submit a plan before arriving, they will then be monitored by the Operation Isolation team. In addition, two asymptomatic members of each household will be tested within the 14-day quarantine period. No more than 500 applications (households) will be allowed in each week.

“There will be no opening of the floodgates,” said Morrison. 
Seasonal residents from the Atlantic provinces will be allowed in first, followed by the Prairies and B.C. and, finally, Quebec and Ontario.

“Thousands and thousands of Islanders have come home in the last couple of months, and people have needed to come to Prince Edward Island. They have successfully completed their self-isolation, and this will be the same,” said Morrison.

Seasonal residents from the U.S. will have to continue waiting until the border is opened.

P.E.I. has completed more than 1,000 tests in last week, said Morrison, who had no new cases to report on P.E.I. on Thursday. There have been more than 87,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and fewer than 1,200 new cases in the last five days. 

“There’s a decreasing trend in the number of newly reported cases in the country,” she said.

Also during Thursday’s briefing, details were announced regarding visiting long-term care facilities, which will begin on Monday. Residents will be allowed to identify two designated visitors.

The designated visitors can come together or apart and, initially, visiting areas will be outdoors, said Marion Dowling, P.E.I.’s chief of nursing.

Visitors who cannot maintain physical distancing from their loved ones in care should wear a non-medical mask. There will also be extra cleaning between visitors, said Dowling.

Restrictions on compassionate visitors have been eased as well. Now, palliative patients can have up to six designated visitors per day, two at a time. Age restrictions for visitors have been lifted as well. Family wishing to come from out-of-province will be issued letters authorizing their entry into the province. 

Dowling also reminded Islanders with health-care needs to keep their appointments, come and be seen if they are in need of care and to call 911 if it is an urgent case.

“Please come to your appointments and receive care, or seek care when you need it,” said Dowling.

“We have heard that some individuals are afraid or anxious about coming to appointments or seeking care when they need it because of the pandemic. I want to assure you that all of our services, both in the communities and in hospital are safe.”

King began Thursday’s briefing by announcing that cabinet has extended the provincial state of emergency to June 14. The cabinet decision was based on advice from the emergency measures organization and the chief public health office.


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