N.L. has no new cases of COVID-19 over Easter long weekend

·3 min read
Newfoundland and Labrador remains in stasis after four days without an update from the Department of Health. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Newfoundland and Labrador remains in stasis after four days without an update from the Department of Health. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 since Thursday, April 1, after public health officials reeled back daily reporting over the Easter long weekend.

No new recoveries occurred over that four-day span, leaving the province with four active cases, according to a release from the Department of Health. No one is in hospital due to the virus, and health workers performed 764 tests since Thursday.

Late Friday, Eastern Health confirmed that around 70 people were potentially exposed to COVID-19 in a St. John's emergency room last week, after a positive patient visited the Health Sciences Centre three times in the span of four days.

"Under 20" hospital staff are in quarantine and undergoing testing. The health authority said in a statement Monday afternoon that public health workers have completed contact tracing, with those identified as at risk asked to schedule a test.

All test results so far have returned negative, and the exposure did not impact hospital services, according to Eastern Health.

Atlantic bubble under scrutiny

Newfoundland and Labrador's consistently low caseload bodes well for its inclusion in a tentative Atlantic bubble agreement, which the region's four premiers have scheduled to begin on or before April 19.

The pact would permit travel without isolation between Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as long as outbreaks remain contained and the provinces' top doctors green-light the plan.

However, cases have recently spiked in New Brunswick, as residents there grapple with a B117 variant outbreak. Officials reported 10 new cases on Monday, with 168 people actively battling the illness.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, spoke cautiously about the April 19 opening date. "Our epidemiology teams from all four Atlantic provinces have been meeting, as well as the chief medical officers health on this topic," Russell said.

"We'll keep watching and waiting [to see] if we can all agree, and feel safe and secure about, our ability to contain the variants right now."

The bubble's uncertain future hasn't deterred one jurisdiction from wanting to join, however.

The local government of St-Pierre-Miquelon is lobbying to join the Atlantic bubble and open the international border between the French territory and Newfoundland.
The local government of St-Pierre-Miquelon is lobbying to join the Atlantic bubble and open the international border between the French territory and Newfoundland.(Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Local leadership in St-Pierre-Miquelon, the French prefecture inhabited by 6,000 people off Newfoundland's south coast, have requested inclusion in the bubble, saying in a release Saturday that opening the international border could mutually boost tourism and permit some mobility to residents of the territory, who haven't been allowed into Canada for over a year.

Over half of the archipelago's eligible population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the territory's government.

In an emailed statement Monday, Premier Andrew Furey offered few hints about whether his government supported the idea.

"As part of the country of France, St. Pierre et Miquelon is subject to the federal government's travel guidance," the statement said.

"Our province looks forward to welcoming visitors as soon as it is safe to do so, after discussions with the appropriate levels of government."

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