N.L. chief medical officer warns of complacency as COVID figures surge at record rate

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Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer is warning residents not to be complacent about the pandemic after reporting 100 new COVID-19 cases today involving 74 teenagers.

The new figures are another single-day record for COVID-19 infections in the province and they follow the 53 cases that were reported Wednesday — a record at the time.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the situation in Newfoundland and Labrador is more severe than during prior outbreaks.

She says it has become clear that the novel coronavirus has been circulating undetected in the province for some time and that people who had mild or no symptoms of the disease didn't get tested.

The outbreak has led to a partial lockdown of the capital, St. John's, and to the postponement of Saturday's provincial election for nearly half the province's ridings.

Fitzgerald says as testing is carried out more widely and public health officials track down people who might have been exposed, there is a "snowball effect" in the number of confirmed cases.

"For most people in our province, positive COVID cases were just a daily statistic," she said. "Now they are real and present. They are in family, friends and co-workers."

Fitzgerald says the key strategy going forward is to carry out widespread testing, identify cases and keep people who are infected in isolation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press