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UPDATE: One new case of COVID-19 in P.E.I. confirmed on Sept. 29, 2020

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, held a COVID-19 media briefing on Tuesday. There are no new coronavirus cases and all 36 documented cases are considered recovered.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, provides an update on the coronavirus on Sept. 29. - Contributed

There is one new case of COVID-19 in P.E.I., bringing the total for the province to 59 since the pandemic began, says chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison.

Morrison made the announcement during her weekly briefing Tuesday morning. The new case is a man in his 20s who travelled outside the Atlantic bubble.

The man is an Island resident. No air travel was involved and he is recovering at home and doing well, Morrison said.

With the latest case, Morrison said there are two active cases in the province.

During the briefing, Morrison also said the province will move to a “new normal” system starting Oct. 1, which will use three phases for the risk level and restrictions in the province.

Those phases will be green, which is the least restrictive, yellow and red, which will be most restrictive.

“The new normal phase reflects how we will live with COVID-19 until there is a vaccine or a safe effective treatment for the virus. This phase will allow for increased gathering limits, relaxed visitation guidelines in long-term care, re-instatement of public services, and increased opportunities for regular sport and recreational activities,” said Morrison.


GOOD TO KNOW:
Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison introduced a three-colour alert system for gauging the COVID-19 risk on P.E.I. beginning Oct. 1. The five key factors the CPHO will consider before changing alert level are these:
1. COVID-19 transmission is under control.
2. Sufficient public health capacity (testing and contact tracing). 
3. Sufficient health system capacity (critical care capacity and personal protective equipment).
4. Outbreak risk in vulnerable settings is minimized, for instance in long-term care and corrections.
5. The risk of importation of COVID-19 is managed with border measures, self-isolation and screening.


Morrison said the hope is to remain in the new normal phase for the foreseeable future, but the province has to be prepared to tighten restrictions if necessary.

She also said there is no one indicator to determine the risk level or the necessary public health response. 

Morrison also took time during Tuesday's briefing to clarify some information related to schools.

Students and staff should remain home while ill, Morrison said.

She also said that if they test negative but still display mild symptoms, students or staff could return if they are fever free for 24 hours or symptoms are really mild, as long as they are well enough to engage in learning or perform their jobs.

If there is a positive case, public health will move quickly to conduct contact tracing and testing, Morrison said.

A single positive in a school won’t necessarily mean a school will automatically be closed, Morrison said, adding that will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

School closures could be for one or two days or up to 28 days, she said.

Morrison also announced three new classifications for workers who travel: health-care workers, rotational workers and all other Island workers.

“It is critical that we pause and hit re-start with some clear guidelines for isolation and testing of workers,” said Morrison.

Isolation and testing are key elements in containing COVID-19, but some are choosing not to follow the guidelines, said Morrison.

Rotational workers are Island residents who work a set schedule and who are away from home more than 50 per cent of the time. There will be special measures in place for rotational workers to let them spend time with family for the short time they are home.

The new protocols will come into force on Friday, Oct. 2.

Chief of nursing Marion Dowling spoke at the briefing to thank those who helped to re-locate the Charlottetown testing clinic from the Eastlink Centre to Park Street.

“It was a monumental effort done while continuing our testing services in the meantime,” said Dowling.

The new location at 64 Park St. opened on Monday and will remain open seven days a week for scheduled testing appointments, a cough and fever clinic and for drop-in testing.

The Slemon Park testing clinic will also be open seven days a week.

Dowling said the increase in clinic hours is a result of an increase in demand for testing, 506 tests were completed just on Monday in P.E.I. clinics. 

“We want to increase the access, now that schools are open, people are gathering, sports are starting,” said Dowling “We want to make sure people have access to testing quickly so they can continue to find their results, go back to work, go back to school when they are well and have some comfort in knowing whether or not they are protecting one another in their communities.”

Alison Jenkins is a Local Journalism Intiative Reporter, a position funded by the federal government. She can be reached at alison.jenkins@journalpioneer.com or 902-303-2690.

Posted by Prince Edward Island Government on Tuesday, 29 September 2020

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