33 new COVID-19 cases on P.E.I, outbreaks at QEH and long-term care home

·4 min read
As a result of the outbreak, visiting Units 3 and 8 in the hospital is restricted to partners in care only. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
As a result of the outbreak, visiting Units 3 and 8 in the hospital is restricted to partners in care only. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. health officials have declared an outbreak at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown after "fewer than five" patients tested positive for COVID-19.

The province's chief public health officer said Wednesday that QEH patients and staff are being tested for the virus. As a result of the outbreak, visitors to the hospital's Units 3 and 8 are restricted to partners in care only.

"It looks like there's transmission that has occurred within the facility, and that's sort of the definition of the outbreak," Dr. Heather Morrison said. "P.E.I. is experiencing its first real wave of COVID, and they're seeing this kind of impact in many parts of country."

A second outbreak that so far involves "fewer than five" cases was declared at the Riverview Manor in Montague. No visiting whatsoever will be allowed at the nursing home for the time being.

It wasn't immediately clear why an exact case number wasn't provided in the case of either outbreak.

The CPHO said all COVID-19 protocols are being followed and that Riverview Manor residents are safe, with all having received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine over the past year.

However, given the possibility of breakthrough infections, the province is imposing additional restrictions at long-term care homes on P.E.I. to prevent transmission among vulnerable residents.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Regular visitation is now limited to partners in care. Other visitors may only enter the facilities for compassionate reasons upon the written permission of the home's administrator.

Residents may still leave the home. But in cases there's evidence they didn't follow physical distancing and mask guidelines, the administrator may impose travel restrictions.

Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Michael Gardam said that outbreaks such as these, and its impact on health care workers, are inevitable.

"When this is everywhere around us, this is going to happen in our health care facilities as well," he said.

Gardam added that the province is considering changing isolation rules for staff so that health care services aren't impacted due to rising COVID-19 cases.

P.E.I. Nurses Union president Barbara Brookins said the cases just add to the uncertainty its members are facing, who are also having to deal with staffing shortages across the system.

She said nurses are bracing for a "very challenging" Christmas week.

"The alert is a lot higher for sure, and the concern from nurses is going to be a little bit higher because we want to make sure that that the transmission stops here," Brookins said.

"We need Islanders to step up right now and we need everyone to see the severity of this and recognize that the cases are multiplying."

COVID-19 cases on P.E.I.

33 new cases

The province announced 33 new cases on Wednesday, all of which are still under investigation. Contact tracing is underway and anyone who was identified as a close contact will be contacted by the province.

The new cases include two individuals who aren't residents of P.E.I. but are in the province. They're currently isolating.

P.E.I. is reporting 141 active cases, though the province said permanent residents of other jurisdictions are not included on the active case count or total number of cases.

New exposure sites

Three new possible exposure sites were listed later in the day Wednesday, all for Dec. 17:

  • Grand Senses Spa, 123 Grafton St., Charlottetown, 9-9:30 a.m.

  • Founders Food Hall, 6 Prince St., Charlottetown, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

  • Air Canada flight 8218 from Montreal, departed Dec. 17 to arrive Dec. 18

There have been 560 active cases since the pandemic began.

Potential COVID-19 exposure sites

The province also said that due to high traffic volumes, not all incoming travellers were tested at the Confederation Bridge on Tuesday. But those who weren't were given test kits to use as soon as they arrived to their destination.

All incoming travellers were given rapid test kits to conduct their Day 4 test.

P.EI.'s case count, at 331 cases per 100,000 residents, is still well below the national average of 5,014. Newfoundland and Labrador is currently sitting at 435.6, Nova Scotia at 980.9 and New Brunswick 1,384.5.

Reminder about symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • New or worsening cough.

  • Fever and/or chills.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose, sneezing or congestion.

  • Headache.

  • Muscle, joint or body aches.

  • Feeling unwell or unusually tired.

  • Acute loss of sense of smell or taste.

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