There are 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to an unplanned media release from the Department of Health on Tuesday afternoon, with the bulk of the outbreak clustered in the central part of the island.
The sharp uptick in infections prompted the department to enact public health restrictions in the region beginning Wednesday.
All towns and communities along Routes 410 to 419 on the Baie Verte Peninsula will move to Alert Level 3 at midnight, forcing bars to close and reimposing household contact limits.
Fourteen of Tuesday's new cases are in the Central Health region, and all are under investigation.
The cases include one male under 20 years of age, one man and one woman between 20 and 39 years of age, two women and two men in their 40s, two men and two women in their 50s, one woman and one man in their 60s and one woman 70 or older.
Two of the cases are in the Eastern Health region, a male and female under the age of 20. Both are related to international travel.
The province now has its highest active caseload since June 8, with 57. The Health Department also reported eight presumptive positive cases.
Five people have recovered since Monday: four in the Eastern Health region and one in the Labrador Grenfell Health region. No one is hospitalized.
On Monday, the department announced a COVID-19 outbreak connected with White Bay Retirement Living in Baie Verte. There are now 13 confirmed cases associated with the outbreak, said the department. Officials say they don't yet know the source of that cluster.
The department said it also continues to monitor two other COVID-19 clusters.
There are 21 confirmed cases connected to an outbreak in the Labrador-Grenfell region, and eight confirmed cases in the Western Health region.
To date, 290,824 tests have been performed — up 1,454 since Monday's update. According to the provincial government's COVID-19 website, nearly 88 per cent of the province's eligible population has received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 79 per cent has received two doses.
The unscheduled update in case numbers came late Tuesday afternoon. The department usually only provides COVID-19 updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
2 students test positive at Macdonald Drive Elementary
Earlier Tuesday, public health officials identified two cases of COVID-19 at Macdonald Drive Elementary in St. John's.
CBC News has confirmed that both cases are students.
In a letter sent to families on Tuesday, Newfoundland and Labrador English School District assistant director of education-programs Andrew Hickey said students who are not deemed to be close contacts can report to school as usual on Wednesday.
Any students who are deemed close contacts will be contacted via SchoolMessenger, a communication app for parents, students and school administration. In a statement provided to CBC News, a spokesperson for the district said any close contacts have been advised to get tested and self-isolate if necessary.
"We have been assured by Public Health that, at this time, the school can remain open under 'low risk' protocols as outlined in the Back to School Plan," said the spokesperson in an email. "If that advice changes, we will adjust as necessary."
The NLESD refused an interview.
The spokesperson said the district will provide continuity of learning plans or Chromebooks for students who need to self-isolate. Hickey said more information regarding online learning plans will be available on Wednesday.
The announcement comes days after the province once again started requiring staff and students in grades 4 to 12 to wear masks at all times while in school.