In her weekly interview with CBC News: Compass, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says both an alert app and a saliva test for COVID-19 are likely coming in the next few months.
Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged all Canadians to download the federal government's smartphone app, which will notify users if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and also has the app. They could then call public health officials to find out what to do next.
"We are absolutely in discussions ... about adopting the app here," said Morrison.
She said she is hoping to make a further announcement about the app in early October.
"It will be one more tool to use. It will not replace the contract tracing," which P.E.I. will continue to do, she added.
British Columbia is currently using a saliva test to detect COVID-19 in school-age children, and Nova Scotia is considering it. Could this test be coming to P.E.I.?
"Saliva tests are really going to be great, once they're evaluated and available," she said. "It will mean different people can do the test and it will help facilitate a less invasive way of getting the same results."
There are outstanding questions about the efficacy of saliva tests, and scientists are racing to find an accurate one.
Morrison said her team is in discussions about the test and watching the validation process. She expects it could be available on P.E.I. in November.
Could P.E.I. avoid a 2nd wave?
As other jurisdictions in Canada see a steady increase in coronavirus cases, P.E.I. has so far seen no community spread of the virus. Could a strict regime of self-isolation among travellers, plus rigorous contact tracing, testing and monitoring keep P.E.I. safe from a second wave of cases?
"It's a concern that we have every day when we see those cases go up across the country," Morrison said.
She said she hopes to keep the pandemic, if not eliminated, then at a "slow burn" — with a small, manageable number of cases.
"That will require co-operation from everyone," she said.
Morrison had been hoping P.E.I. could co-operate with the other provinces on a Canadian bubble, which would see travel restriction ease among provinces. But with cases spiking again in other provinces, she said that's on the back burner for now.
"We'll continue to look at it but we don't have a time frame, and I think the premier would feel the same," she said.
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