CHARLOTTETOWN — For the first time since the start of the pandemic Prince Edward Island is declaring a COVID-19 outbreak in a school.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the province Sunday, all in children under the age of 19.
"We do have a serious situation with COVID-19 transmission in P.E.I. involving children," Morrison told reporters at a Sunday afternoon briefing.
The new infections come in addition to a case announced Saturday involving a student at Charlottetown's West Royalty Elementary School.
"Close contacts are being identified and will be required to test and self-isolate, especially those who are not fully vaccinated," Morrison said. "I fully expect we will have more positive cases in the coming days."
In-person classes at West Royalty Elementary have been cancelled for the coming week, while classes are cancelled for the next three days at 17 other schools in the area to allow for contact tracing and testing.
"At this point we do not know the extent of COVID-19 transmission in our schools or in our province," Morrison said, adding that officials have not determined if the cases are the result of travel outside the province or are examples of community spread.
Premier Dennis King also took part in the news conference and said it's important that the right steps are taken quickly to help contain the outbreak.
"We know that children under 12 are able to best excel when they are in classroom learning, when they are able to participate in extracurricular activities and when they are able to interact with their family and their friends," King said.
"It's important that we do everything we can to catch this as quickly as we can so that we can get back to getting these students back into our classrooms," he added.
Morrison said 10 of the most recent 11 COVID-19 cases in the province involve people under the age of 19.
"This is not the news any of us want to hear," she said.
There are 14 active infections in the province.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2021.
- By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
The Canadian Press