Health officials in Prince Edward Island concerned about new COVID-19 cluster

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CHARLOTTETOWN — A cluster of COVID-19 infections in Prince Edward Island whose origin hasn't been identified is concerning health officials, who called on Friday for any close contacts of those cases to isolate and get tested.

The cluster of three cases in Summerside, P.E.I., about 60 kilometres west of Charlottetown, involves three men in their 20s. It was first reported Thursday.

"These cases are close contacts of each other and have mild symptoms; they are now self-isolating," chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters Friday.

"Our investigation of the three cases is still ongoing," she added. "At this point these cases have not been linked to travel." Morrison said 61 close contacts have been identified and efforts are being made to contact all of them.

"Anyone in the Summerside area with any COVID-19 symptoms should be tested," Morrison said. She issued a list of locations, including a gym and pizza restaurant, where exposures could have occurred.

Morrison said it's concerning that officials haven't identified the source of the cluster. "We certainly have concerns about possible community spread in P.E.I. and this is why we are focused on increased testing," Morrison said.

"We are always more concerned when we don't have a link to travel and we don't have a source of the infection," she said. "We will learn more in the hours and days ahead."

As a precautionary measure, the government is offering COVID-19 testing for all people in Summerside over the weekend who are between the ages of 14 and 29, even if they have no symptoms of the disease.

"Increased testing will tell us if COVID-19 is circulating in the 14-to-29-year-old age group in the Summerside area," Morrison said.

She reported one new case on the Island Friday, involving a woman in her 20s. Morrison said the case does not appear to be directly linked to other cases announced this week. There are now seven active known cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island.

On Wednesday, Morrison reported that two women in Charlottetown had tested positive. Those cases, she said, were related to travel within Atlantic Canada. She said Friday one of the two women has been charged with two infractions under the Public Health Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

The Canadian Press