Communities through central and western Newfoundland are shifting alert levels on Tuesday as the province reports six new cases of COVID-19.
According to Tuesday's update from the Department of Health, two of Tuesday's cases are in central Newfoundland, one of which is a man between 20 and 30 years old and is connected to a previous case tied to the cluster in the region. The second case in central is a man under 20 years old who is a contact of a previous case and not connected to the cluster.
Some areas of the Central Health region will move down to Alert Level 3, based on the public health investigation into the cluster to date and the epidemiology in the region. According to the Department of Health, a source has not yet been determined, but the risk to the public is deemed low.
Communities moving to Alert Level 3:
Little Burnt Bay
Norris Arm North
Norris Arm South
All other communities in the region along Trans Canada Highway Route 1 from Gambo to Badger will move to Alert Level 2. The health department said this includes communities along the Trans Canada Highway Routes 320, 330 and 350 and most of the branches.
Meanwhile, three of Tuesday's new cases are in western Newfoundland and are connected to a cluster in that area. By age, one is woman between 20 and 39 years old, one is a woman in her 40s and one is a woman in her 50s.
The Department of Health said it's introducing a special measures order to include towns and communities along highway Route 403, which includes Flat Bay, St. Theresa's and Journois, under Alert Level 4.
"This expansion is happening to better describe the impacted Western Health region, based on the public health investigation to date. Public health continues to conduct testing in the region," a Department of Health media release reads.
The expansion is in addition to the towns already in Alert Level 4, which includes St. George's, Stephenville Crossing, Stephenville, Port au Port East, all towns on the Port au Port Peninsula and towns and communities along Routes 460, 461, 462, 463 and 490.
The final case reported on Tuesday is in the Eastern Health region and is related to travel within Canada.
The health department also reported 17 more recoveries Tuesday. Five of those are located in the Eastern Health region and 12 are in the Central Health region. This leaves 90 active cases in the province, down from 101 on Monday.
There is one person is hospital due to COVID-19.
The Department of Health said the investigation into both the central and western Newfoundland clusters is ongoing. As of Tuesday, the central Newfoundland cluster has 64 confirmed cases associated with it. There is also one presumptive positive case and one probable case.
The western Newfoundland cluster now has 14 confirmed positive cases with four presumptive positive cases.
There are also three additional presumptive positive cases in the province.
COVID-19 vaccination clinics remain open in the Western Health and Central Health regions.
To date, 147,143 people have been tested, including 605 since Monday's update.
New guidance on mixing vaccines
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidance on Tuesday for provinces and territories to recommend that anyone with a first shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can receive either a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech dose for their second shot.
Health Minister John Haggie told reporters Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald and her team will be looking into the recommendation, and the new guidance increases the flexibility of administering vaccine doses.
"There's talk of an extra delivery of Moderna, for example, and this means we can pretty well send that anywhere or use it for anything. I think there will be a discussion on how best we use that," Haggie said,
"We've got a lot of options, and over the next few days we'll flesh that out."