N.L. sees 8 new cases of COVID-19, highest single-day count since April

·3 min read
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

Saturday's increase in cases is the most in a single day in the province since April 6. The most recent new cases have been from travel-related sources, however, while those in April were from transmission within the province.

All of Saturday's new cases are in the Eastern Health region, five of which are related to travel and three are still under investigation by public health.

In a media release, the Department of Health said two of the travel-related cases are not residents of the province, but arrived in the province while in transit to another international destination and have since left under federal public health guidelines.

Another person, who also tested positive for COVID-19 and is included in the department's active case count, also left the province with those people.

"There is no risk to anyone travelling on commercial airlines or ferries as a result of their arrival or departure," the department's media release said.

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the department said the people who tested positive arrived on an international cargo plane, stopping in the province through the course of their work. They did not leave the province via commercial travel.

Contact tracing is complete for the other travel-related cases, with one coming from international travel and two related to travel from work in Alberta. The Department of Health said it would provide an update on the cases that are still under investigation.

An update was also provided on Friday's case with an unknown source, as public health determined the case was related to a worker returning home from British Columbia.

Department asks some workers, travellers to get tested

The health department is also advising rotational workers about two identified COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta at the Chevron Duvernay Lodge and Suncor's Fort Hills oil sands site.

The department said it was notified about the outbreaks by the Public Health Agency of Canada as people from this province work at the locations.

Rotational workers with these projects who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 14 days must self-isolate, physically distance away from household members and call 811 to arrange for testing. These workers must also complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of test result.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The Department of Health is also asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 690 from Toronto to St. John's that arrived Dec. 11, Dec. 15 or Dec. 17 to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing.

This advisory comes a day after the health department issued advisories to passengers on Air Canada Flight 8862 from Halifax to Gander, on Dec. 7 and Dec. 15 to call 811 to arrange for testing.

"Public health is making this ask out of an abundance of caution in light of today's reported cases of COVID-19," Saturday's media release reads.

Vaccines continue as Christmas approaches

During Friday's provincial COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister John Haggie said about 160 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered to front-line health care workers on Thursday, with the same number expected on Friday.

Haggie said vaccinations will continue through the weekend and vaccination figures will be available by Monday or Tuesday.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald also shared a reminder for any last minute Christmas shoppers during Friday's briefing.

"While the usual hustle and bustle will again be different this year, as you are running your errands or finding that last minute holiday gift, remember the importance of physical distancing and proper non-medical mask wearing," she said.

"And while a mask can make a good present, remember that you should not share your mask with others."

The province has 31 active cases, as there has been one new recovery since Friday's update.

In total, 69,870 people have now been tested in the province to date — an increase of 409 in the last day.

There have been 342 recoveries, with one person in hospital due to the virus.

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