3 new cases but P.E.I. school outbreak 'appears to be contained,' says premier

·3 min read
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says he is confident the COVID-19 outbreak at West Royalty Elementary has been contained.  (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says he is confident the COVID-19 outbreak at West Royalty Elementary has been contained. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says the province appears to have been successful in its handling of the recent COVID-19 outbreak at Charlottetown's West Royalty Elementary School.

"We're confident that the West Royalty outbreak situation appears to be contained and the appropriate individuals are in isolation to assure that there's no further spread related to these cases," he said.

The province announced three new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, two of which were household close contacts to cases linked to the school outbreak.

Two of the individuals are in their 30s and the other one is in their 20s. Contact tracing has been completed and the people are self-isolating.

Thirty-eight new cases were reported last week, a record high for the province. Twenty-nine of the cases were related to the West Royalty outbreak, 24 of whom were children.

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison also said that all contacts to the case reported at École La-Belle-Cloche on Thursday have tested negative for COVID-19. They will be tested again, however.

The province has 47 active cases, for a total of 287 since the pandemic began.

'Frankly amazing'

Prince Edward Island is in a better place when it comes to the Charlottetown elementary school outbreak than over a week ago, Morrison said.

"The fact that we can say that is, according to our epidemiologist, frankly amazing," she said.

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"Thanks to the tremendous support of students, families, the education system and our partners in Health P.E.I., we're confident that we're moving in the right direction to contain this outbreak."

Morrison said the decision to close schools temporarily was key to containing the spread. The closures allowed for people to get tested and provide information to Public Health.

However, she added that it's still early days and she expects more cases will likely be announced.

No link to travel known

A total of 580 close contacts connected to the West Royalty outbreak and related cases at Charlottetown Rural High School have been identified.

No link between the cases and travel outside the province has been established.

"We know that COVID-19 is circulating in our community making it extremely important that anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, even mild ones, to be tested as soon as possible and stay at home if they are not feeling well," Morrison said.

About 7,000 lab test were performed last week, along with 11,300 rapid tests.

Fourth wave

With COVID-19 cases surging in Atlantic Canada and the rest of the country, Morrison said that the province will keep current public health measures in place.

She said modelling suggest the country is in early days of a fourth wave, which has been driven by the delta variant. All the P.E.I. cases in September that have so far been tested at a national laboratory have been identified as the delta variant.

"The measures we were taking to contain the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year are not sufficient to fight this variant. The best way through this pandemic is for as many people as possible to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible," she said.

COVID-19 cases on P.E.I.

As of Saturday 92.8 per cent of the eligible population on P.E.I. have received at least one vaccine dose, and 85.1 per cent have received two shots.

Just under 40,000 people on P.E.I. are not fully vaccinated, including children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Health P.E.I. clinics and many Island pharmacies continue to offer the vaccines free of charge, Morrison noted, adding Islanders with compromised immunity may also now receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Morrison said she hopes to soon be able to offer these third shots to residents and staff in long-term care in P.E.I., in conjunction with their annual flu shots.

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