1 new travel-related case of COVID-19 in N.L., as new Atlantic bubble nears

·3 min read
Masks are still a part of regular life one year after the pandemic began, and many say will continue to be so, even as the number of vaccinations rise.  (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
Masks are still a part of regular life one year after the pandemic began, and many say will continue to be so, even as the number of vaccinations rise. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Thursday, a man under 40 in the Central Health region.

That case is related to travel within Canada, according to a release from the Department of Health.

The province has four active cases of the illness, the lowest caseload of all East Coast provinces.

Thursday marks a new month, and one in which the Atlantic bubble is slated to reopen.

The bubble allows people to travel freely within Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island without having to self-isolate. Last month, the Atlantic premiers announced a tentative opening date of April 19, as long as outbreaks remain under control.

As of the latest figures available Wednesday, the active cases are:

  • 141 in New Brunswick.

  • 24 in Nova Scotia.

  • 13 in P.E.I.

Since Wednesday, 205 people have been tested, for a total of 124,466, and health authorities are still investigating the source of Wednesday's new case.

The Health Department is also warning rotational workers of three Alberta outbreaks, a day after variant B1351 was confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. Workers returning from Michels Canada, RCC Simonette Lodge or Tourmaline Oil Nabors sites must isolate themselves from household members for 14 days.

Bumpy week for vaccine plan

On Wednesday, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said 63,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Health Minister John Haggie had long been touting that N.L. would hit its goal of 80,000 doses by the end of March. He maintains that will still happen, albeit now a few slight caveats — by April 4 and likely shy by about 1,000 shots.

There have been a few bumps in the road to vaccinations this week. First, Newfoundland and Labrador joined other provinces in suspending the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in people under the age of 55, in line with federal guideline changes.

That change is due to data linking the vaccine to rare instances of blood clotting, called vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia, or VIPIT.

No cases of such blood-clotting have been reported in Canada. About 4,600 people have received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it may still be used for people over the age of 55.

Despite the pause in that vaccine for a certain age group, strong interest remains. Shortly before 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Eastern Health announced it had 210 doses that needed to be used by the end of the week because they would expire. Anyone between the ages of 55 and 64 could register for an appointment.

By shortly after 4 p.m., all of those appointments had been filled.

Frustration also swelled among some people this week, as callers encountered delays trying to book vaccine appointments through Eastern Health phone lines. Haggie said extra staff have been added and they are being divided to take a regionalized approach.

There will be no COVID-19 updates released over the Easter weekend, with a plan to return to regular updates on Monday. Media briefings have returned to being held once a week, usually Wednesdays.

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