Three new cases of COVID-19 were announced on P.E.I. on Tuesday, all close contacts of a previously reported case, as public health officials continued to urge Islanders to seek and keep vaccine appointments.
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced the new cases at her regular, weekly pandemic briefing Tuesday morning.
Two of the new cases are young people, under the age of 19. The third person is in their 40s.
The cases bring the total number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 on the Island to 159 in the past 13 months. There are 14 active cases.
Morrison said 94 people on P.E.I. are currently self-isolating because they have been identified as a close contact of a recent case.
While vaccinations using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at pharmacies were paused on Monday, vaccination clinics are still open in the province.
Chief of Nursing Marion Dowling said a small number of people have been calling to cancel appointments. She reiterated the province is not currently giving the AstraZeneca vaccine, and she urged people to get the vaccines being offered.
"Our clinics are only offering the Pfizer or the Moderna, the mRNA vaccines, and they are very safe and there are no concerns," said Dowling.
On P.E.I., the AstraZeneca vaccine was being offered exclusively to people aged 18 to 29 who worked directly with the public. That was halted Monday in the wake of national concerns about blood clots forming after vaccinations in some European countries.
Morrison said there are no plans currently to create new opportunities for people in that group to get vaccinated early using either of the other vaccines available here.
She said the 300 AstraZeneca doses remaining on the Island have an expiry date in June, and there is time to evaluate all the evidence on clotting before they become unusable.
Morrison added that another 6,000 doses of AstraZeneca are due to arrive on P.E.I. next week, and they too have a shelf life of at least a couple of months.
On another note, Morrison used some of her time at the briefing to talk about the upcoming Easter weekend, the most important annual observance in the Christian calendar.
She took a moment to thank churches for their co-operation over the last year, acknowledging the struggles they have gone through as gathering sizes have been limited.
She also took a moment to reassure children about the Easter bunny, noting that this is the second Easter of the pandemic.
"The Easter bunny is immune to COVID-19, and as such he will be able to visit children in P.E.I. The bunny is very organized and has already applied for pre-travel approval," said Morrison.
"The pandemic will not keep the Easter bunny away."
With the number of cases rising across the country due to the emergence of variants that seem to be more contagious, Morrison said these last few months of the pandemic will be difficult, and she urged Islanders to remain patient.
"COVID-19 has taken a toll on every Islander. There's been highs and lows," she said.
"While we are on the home stretch of this race, the next few months will not be easy."
While Islanders will need to take care, she noted there are things to look forward to, such as the reopening of the Atlantic bubble next month.
The province is still on track to provide a vaccine to everyone who wants one by the end of June, she said, with second doses provided by the fall.
As of this past Saturday, Morrison said, 21,712 vaccine doses had been administered to Islanders. Among those were 6,406 second doses.
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