N.L. has no new cases of COVID-19 as investigation continues into Eastern region cluster

·3 min read
Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday as public health continues its investigation into the source of a cluster of five cases in the Eastern Health region of the province.

As part of its investigation, public health is asking anyone who worked at or visited three establishments in downtown St. John's, during the specified dates and times listed below, to call 811 to arrange testing:

  • The Duke of Duckworth, 325 Duckworth Street, on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 3:30 p.m. to close.

  • The Rose and Thistle Pub, 208 Water Street, on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 4:30 p.m. to close.

  • Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca, 377 Duckworth Street, on Friday, Jan. 22 from 6:00 p.m. to close.

People can also arrange testing by completing the online self-assessment and referral tool available here.

All those who get tested must self-isolate until they receive a negative test result, the Department of Health said in a media release.

During Friday's provincial briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said identifying specific businesses wasn't necessary at the time.

That changed on Sunday, however.

"Through the course of the investigation, new information regarding potential sources of exposure in the establishments came to light, which made it necessary for public health to issue the advisories today," the health department wrote in a statement to CBC News.

When reached by CBC News Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Piatto said they were not willing to comment as of yet. Posts on the restaurant's social media pages said it would be closed Sunday.

Both The Duke of Duckworth and the Rose and Thistle Pub were open on Sunday.

Contact tracing at St. John's gym

On Thursday, MAX Fitness was notified that someone who attended a fitness class at the New Cove Road location on Jan. 14 had tested positive.

Contact tracing had already been completed, and MAX says it has stringent physical distancing and cleaning protocols, so public health instructed them to continue with operations as usual.

CEO Steve Ash said while the situation is concerning, he trusts the advice he gets from medical experts.

"You do get very concerned, especially when you've been notified that it occurred two weeks prior," he said.

"You sort of think, is there anything else that we should be doing? Some other organizations in the city and companies in the city had to shut down. And I'm not familiar with why that was."

Ash said it's ultimately the experts at public health who know the proper course of action.

"As a CEO, I have to rely heavily on the experts. We learn and we educate ourselves as much as we can in terms of what we should and should not be doing. But at the end of the day, the folks that are making decisions for public health are obviously far more educated and informed on making these sorts of decisions."

13 active cases

There have been no new recoveries since Saturday's update, meaning there are 13 active cases in the province.

Meanwhile, the suspected case in a daycare — connected to the cluster — has not yet been confirmed by public health as a positive case, the health department said.

No children or staff at the daycare have tested positive for the virus.

As of Sunday, 80,010 people have been tested — an additional 322 in the last day.

One person is in hospital.

The next live COVID-19 update from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald should fall on Wednesday, but after this week's new cases and as public health continues to work to find the source of the cluster in the Eastern Health region of the province, Fitzgerald may call other briefings as seen on Thursday and Friday.

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