Friday was the second time in a week that five new COVID-19 cases were reported by Public Health in one day, but Newfoundland and Labrador health officials say it’s par for the course.
“At this point, we expect to see cases. We expect to see travel-related cases,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. “With regard to the epidemiology elsewhere, it only makes sense that we will start to see more travel-related cases. This is a realistic expectation that everybody should have.”
The key, she said, is that everyone follow pandemic health orders, including quarantining upon arrival from outside the province.
With rare exceptions, cases have been either travel-related, or passed on by close contacts of another case.
Three of Friday’s cases were in the Central Health region and two were in Eastern Health. All but one of the latter cases were traced to travel. That other case is under investigation.
While one of the Central Health cases is a school-age child, Public Health has said it was a member of a household that was already self-isolating, so there is no risk to the school community.
The new cases spurred Public Health to issue two travel alerts as an extra precaution.
Passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8862 from Halifax to Gander arriving Monday, Dec. 7 are asked to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing.
The same goes for passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8862 from Halifax to Gander that arrived Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Fitzgerald said she hopes everyone finds safe ways to celebrate over the Christmas season, and challenged residents to get creative.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new traditions created this year that take hold into next year.”
She also warned shoppers not to let their guard down during the last weekend before Dec. 25.
“As you are running your errands or finding that last-minute holiday gift, remember the importance of physical distancing and proper non-medical mask wearing," she said. “Non-medical masks should allow for easy breathing, fit securely to your head with ties or ear loops, fully cover your nose and mouth, be clean and dry, and be comfortable and large enough to comfortably cover the nose and mouth.”
Most of all, she said not to forget what Christmas is all about.
“This holiday season will be different. As we begin to close the chapter on 2020, please continue to show each other love and kindness, protect and support one another, and hold fast, Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. John Haggie offered an update on the progression of vaccinations.
He said he has received confirmation that two more shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected before the new year.
Thereafter, the province will get four trays of the vaccine every week to 10 days. Each tray contains 975 doses.
The company still insists the doses can’t be transported from the facility at which they arrive, but new ultra deep freezers will soon be shipped to other centres in the province. It’s hoped the first freezer should arrive in Happy Valley-Goose Bay within the next 10 days.
Asked what they hope to do over the holidays, the two panellists said their Christmas wishes are modest.
“I’m just looking forward to curling up in front of the fire and not having to do anything for a couple of days,” Fitzgerald replied.
Added Haggie: “It would be nice if the phone didn’t ring.”
Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram