1 new case of COVID-19 in N.L. with Labrador vaccines set to roll out

·2 min read

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while the rollout plan for the Moderna vaccine in remote Labrador communities gets underway.

The new case is a male, age 20-39, in the Eastern Health region. The person is not a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the case is related to international travel. The man is self-isolating, and contact tracing has been completed with anyone considered a close contact advised to quarantine.

There are 11 active cases, making the total numbers of cases since the start of the pandemic 392, according to an update Tuesday from the Department of Health.

One person remains in hospital. To date, 73,508 people have been tested, including 226 in the past day. There have been four deaths and 374 recoveries.

Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster said the distribution plan will be issued by Labrador-Grenfell Health and will see the vaccine given to residents in Labrador's rural and isolated communities very soon.

"Potentially Black Tickle and Norman Bay likely being inoculated this week, that's what we're hoping," Dempster said Tuesday.

If all goes according to plan, Dempster said, Nunatsiavut communities will get the vaccine the week of Jan. 11, while Natuashish and Sheshatshiu will receive inoculations the week of Jan. 18.

"We have new freezers coming this week. We have one in Goose Bay, and likely one of the next ones will be destined for Labrador West," Dempster said. Ultra-low freezers are required to store the vaccine doses until they are ready to be administered. "There's also a big focus right now on getting more vaccine into the province."

Torngat Mountains PC MHA Lela Evans, who represents many of the communities in coastal Labrador, said while she hasn't received direct communication of the rollout plan, she's been involved in discussions with Nunatsiavut.

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PAL Airlines

Having the vaccine on the horizon is a relief, she said.

"If it ever got into the north coast we knew we were gonna have fatalities, and it would have attacked our elders, and that's very traumatic to our population," she said.

"For us to have such vulnerable populations, not just with our elders but people with medical conditions, and to see us so vulnerable, so helpless, and you didn't really want to be talking too much about it because you didn't want to create panic, but I got to tell you, deep down, I had a lot of sleepless nights."

But both Dempster and Evans cautioned that it doesn't mean people can start easing up their following of public health restrictions.

"Even though we have the vaccine in Labrador, until we get probably 80 per cent of our communities, until we get immunity … we still have to very much continue," Dempster told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"Perhaps even for the remainder of this calendar year, we still have to continue to be very, very careful."

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