Enhanced screening measures, including checkpoints at the Confederation Bridge, Charlottetown airport and Souris ferry terminal, will soon be put in place to battle the spread of COVID-19, P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced Saturday.
Officials will be asking questions and directing anyone coming from out of province, including within Canada, from March 21 onward to self-isolate for 14 days. That means staying home and not going to the grocery store, Morrison said in her daily briefing. The measures will be in place as soon as possible.
Morrison said the new screenings will involve a series of health questions that people will be asked at entry points to the province. If people are exhibiting symptoms, their contact information will be taken and they will be directed to next steps for testing.
"The hope is to do temperature checks as well," she said, "We know that not everyone who has COVID-19 symptoms has a temperature but we will be doing that as much as possible."
Exceptions will be made for people who are considered essential workers, such as health-care workers, truck drivers, airline crews, and essential front-line workers in the public or private sector, according to the province. Those workers will be asked to self-monitor daily and self-isolate if experiencing symptoms.
Other provinces have started to look at ways to enforce COVID-19 protocols, including law enforcement, and Morrison said that is a consideration on P.E.I.
"It's a balanced use of authority, those who aren't complying we will want to deal with because they put others at risk. It is an ongoing and current discussion."
She said there are still only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I., both related to travel.
On Friday, she asked passengers on a flight from Toronto to Charlottetown March 11 to self-isolate until March 25.
P.E.I.'s second confirmed case of COVID-19 was detected in a Queens County man in his 40s who was returning from the U.K. on Air Canada flight 7564, which left Toronto at 9:20 a.m on March 11. He was not showing symptoms while on the flight.
Now, Morrison said she is concerned there will be transmission of the virus in the community, not just from travellers.
As of Saturday morning, 300 COVID-19 tests have been conducted on P.E.I. More results are expected Saturday night.
P.E.I. pharmacies are limiting refills to 30 days at a time, effective Saturday, to ensure fair access to medication.
"This is a marathon, this is not a sprint," Morrison said, urging Islanders to be calm and kind to one another.
She said there are resources online, including a kids help line and farmers help line, for people feeling anxious or overwhelmed by COVID-19.
"I do recognize with so many people at home the mental health impacts are difficult to measure," she said.
There is no media briefing scheduled for Sunday. Morrison is expected to address the public again Monday at 1:30 p.m.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
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