1 new case of COVID-19 in N.L., as Health Department warns of outbreaks at 2 work camps in B.C.

·3 min read

There is one new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province announced Tuesday, nudging the active caseload up to 29.

The new case is a man in the Central Health region between 20 and 39 years old. According to the Department of Health the case is travel-related — the man is a resident of the province who returned home from work in Alberta. He is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.

To date, 70,780 people have been tested, including 278 since Monday's update.

There have been no new recoveries since Monday, and one person is in hospital due to the virus.

The Department of Health also issued an advisory for rotational workers about COVID-19 outbreaks at Coastal GasLink's 7 Mile Lodge and Little Rock Lake Lodge sites in British Columbia, as people from Newfoundland and Labrador work at the sites.

Rotational workers who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador from the sites in the last 14 days must isolate themselves from household members and call 811 to arrange testing. These workers must also complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of their test result.

Public Health said it will not be issuing a daily release or updating its COVID-19 data hub on Dec. 25, Dec. 26 or Jan. 1.

If there are new cases reported on those dates, the data will be rolled into the next media release.

Monday's briefing was the last for 2020, Premier Andrew Furey announced. Briefings will start again the first week of January, but if something significant happens over the holidays, the Department of Health says Furey, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald and Health Minister John Haggie will make themselves available for an update.

'Much work' underway in Labrador for vaccines

Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster said "much work is happening behind the scenes" to come up with a plan for rolling out vaccines in Labrador.

The only vaccine currently approved and being administered in Canada is from Pfizer-BioNTech. Because of that vaccine's storage and transportation restrictions, it can only be given out from a single delivery point.

In N.L., that's at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's, where there is an ultra-low-temperature freezer available for storing the vaccine.

Eduardo Munoz/Pool photo/The Associated Press
Eduardo Munoz/Pool photo/The Associated Press

More ultra-low freezers are on order, with the next destined for Happy Valley-Goose Bay when it arrives, but those freezers are on order for many other jurisdictions, as well.

Until more freezers arrive, people need to be in St. John's to receive the vaccine.

Dempster said the plan for Labrador hinges on the pending approval of a vaccine from Moderna. That vaccine has fewer storage restrictions and is considered more stable, needing to be stored at –20 C rather than –70 C, like Pfizer-BioNTech.

"I think most now know the instability of Pfizer being able to be moved, where we have to bring the folks to Pfizer, but with Moderna, we will be bringing Moderna to the people," Dempster said.

Meetings are underway to determine which communities will get the vaccine and when, Dempster said, adding that when Moderna is approved, vaccine rollout will be "quite a different ball game" than it is currently.

"We're expecting the first vaccines to come in possibly between the end of December and the middle of January, and we're hoping maybe even in the first quarter of the year that we can have the Indigenous communities done," Dempster said.

"The isolated communities that are Indigenous are priority, make no mistake about it."

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