1 dead of COVID-19 as N.L. tipping into high-risk season

·2 min read
Tara Moriarty, who runs the Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 Hazard Index, estimates one in 100 people in the province are infected. (CBC News - image credit)
Tara Moriarty, who runs the Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 Hazard Index, estimates one in 100 people in the province are infected. (CBC News - image credit)

Another person has died of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador as the province moves into what one expert is calling a high-risk season for the province.

Tara Moriarty, who runs the province's COVID-19 Hazard Index, said Wednesday the province's indicators — such as hospitalizations and wastewater testing — have plateaued. Recently, though, she's seen an increase in test positivity.

As many as one in 100 people in Newfoundland and Labrador are currently infected, by her calculations.

"People need to understand that the risk of picking up COVID is really high," Moriarty said.

A return to school and in-person work, plus colder weather forcing people indoors, has significantly increased the chances of transmission, she said, urging people over 40 — who are among those least likely to have contracted COVID-19 so far, and who appear to be the group more likely to fall ill now — to get a fourth dose of vaccine as soon as possible.

"Protection from third doses has well worn off," Moriarty warned.

Expect more colds, flu: Fitzgerald

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday she expects a more intense cold and flu season.

"We've seen what's happened in the southern hemisphere with flu," Fitzgerald said, referring to a spike in cases during the southern winter season. "We anticipate we'll see something similar."

Fitzgerald said public health workers haven't seen much flu circulating for two years of sanitization, mask mandates and lockdowns, meaning people now don't have the same immunity and may be more likely to fall ill.

She added, however, that she's looking at updates to self-isolation recommendations for those experiencing respiratory symptoms and fever.

The province now suggests staying home from school, work and activities for seven days from the onset of those symptoms, but Fitzgerald now suggests waiting 24 hours after fever improves and after "significant improvement" of all other symptoms.

The latest death, announced in the Health Department's weekly update, was a person in their 70s in the Eastern Health region. follows two last week. The province's total number of deaths since the pandemic hit in March 2020 is now 237. There are two people in hospital — the fewest since Jan. 4 — with no one in critical care.

The Health Department also announced 144 new cases in the past week, but those cases don't represent the actual spread of the disease, as the department restricts PCR testing and counts only positive cases found in tests done by the province's regional health authorities.

Two people are in hospital with the virus.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador