N.L. holds steady on low COVID-19 cases, a week after reopening

·4 min read
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says 'the end of the COVID marathon is in sight.' Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new cases on Wednesday.  (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - image credit)
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says 'the end of the COVID marathon is in sight.' Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new cases on Wednesday. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - image credit)
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

There are no new cases of COVID-19 being reported in Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, as two more recoveries drop the province's active caseload to 14.

Twelve of those cases are crew members aboard the Iver Ambition, anchored for a third day in Conception Bay.

"They pose no risk to the community," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald.

"I would like to thank Eastern Health [workers] who once again boarded the ship to conduct the tests, and we continue to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada to support the health and safety of the crew and follow up as needed."

To date, 162,045 people have been tested in N.L., including 276 since Tuesday's update.

There is nobody in hospital due to COVID-19.

Watch the full July 7 update:

It has been a full week since the province reopened its borders to non-essential travel. In that time it has reported only two new cases of COVID-19 other than the crew members aboard the Iver Ambition.

"Similar to what we were seeing in the weeks leading up to Step 1, this has been reassuring," Fitzgerald said.

"The end of the COVID marathon is in sight. We need to pace ourselves and make sure we get this right. If all goes well we will be in a very different place in just a few short months."

Improving landscape

The national epidemiology has continued to improve, Fitzgerald said, with Canada reporting fewer than 400 new cases a day.

According to the province's COVID-19 website, just over 80 per cent of Newfoundland and Labrador's eligible population has now received at least one dose of vaccine, while just over 24 per cent has received two shots.

The province is expecting 51,740 more doses to arrive this week.

Health Minister John Haggie said the border has been busy since the province dropped its travel restrictions on Canada Day. Over the first four days of July, he said, more than 10,000 travel forms for those coming to the province were completed.

Haley Ryan/CBC
Haley Ryan/CBC

"I presume by now most of those people would have arrived in the province.… We're certainly seeing planeloads in St. John's, Gander and Deer Lake as well as Wabush," he said.

"I'm delighted to say that despite concerns at the beginning around the paper work and one thing or another, there has been very little in the way of issues."

Haggie said the province has an ample supply of vaccine.

Another milestone

This week marked another pandemic milestone for the province: More than 500,000 doses of vaccine have now been doled out by public health.

However, there have been reports of people walking away from their second dose appointments when not being offered their preferred vaccine.

When asked if that will affect plans to have 50 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by mid-summer, Premier Andrew Furey reiterated it is safe to mix vaccine doses.

"If you've got your measle, mumps, rubella vaccines over the years, or if you've travelled to foreign countries, I'm pretty confident most people don't know who manufactured those vaccines," Furey said.

Haggie said he doesn't know how many people have declined a second vaccine when offered, for example, Moderna instead of Pfizer-BioNTech, but no doses are being wasted.

"Whatever turns up at a clinic gets administered. That, by itself, would suggest very strongly that it's not delaying our vaccine rollout," he said.

Meanwhile, some provinces are lifting their mask mandates, something N.L. officials have said will be revisited in September.

When asked if N.L. would consider re-evaluating mask rules sooner than that, Furey said the province will continue to watch the real world evidence.

"We're always re-evaluating things, but we'll see where we are in August and as we move into September," he said.

As the number of cases in the province has dwindled, so too have the media briefings; today's update is the last scheduled one until July 21, as the Department of Health has said it will now hold the once-daily briefings every two weeks.

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