Newfoundland and Labrador has surpassed 600,000 vaccine doses, the provincial Health Department announced Wednesday, as the province reported no new cases.
Among the eligible population, 82 per cent have received a first dose while 42 per cent have received two doses, according to Premier Andrew Furey.
"Newfoundland and Labrador, we are moving in the right direction," Furey said during the department's pandemic update Wednesday afternoon.
One of three ships anchored in Newfoundland waters with COVID-19 cases aboard has left, the department reported. A vessel that had been anchored in Bay Bulls departed Wednesday, with three active cases aboard. One of the ship's crew members remains in hospital, and one of two ships anchored in Conception Bay also has a crew member in hospital.
There have been no new recoveries, and with the ship's departure, the province's active caseload drops to 46.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the Iver Ambition, which has been anchored in Conception Bay on July 5, is scheduled to depart Thursday. It has 14 COVID-19 cases aboard.
Watch the full July 21 update:
To date, 164,538 people have been tested for COVID-19 in N.L., including 122 since Tuesday's update.
Fitzgerald said effective Thursday the province will switch to reporting the total number of tests completed rather than individual people, calling it a better indicator for surveillance purposes. The Health Department will start issuing COVID-19 updates just three times a week — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — instead of every weekday.
"As we move into the fourth week of Step 1 in our reopening plan, we continue to do well in both epidemiology and vaccination rates," said Fitzgerald.
"We anticipate that we will achieve 50 per cent of eligible population having received two doses of vaccine by next week. This is well ahead of our estimated timeline."
She said Canada is reporting fewer than 400 cases daily, and in N.L. there have no new COVID-19 cases as a result of travel in two weeks, aside from the cases connected to the ships anchored offshore.
With that, Fitzgerald said the province will be revising its non-medical mask policy. She said the mandatory mask order could be lifted by the second week of August if the epidemiology remains stable in N.L. and across the country.
"At that time, masks will not be mandatory in most indoor public spaces," she said.
Health Minister John Haggie said effective Friday there will be no limit on the frequency of visits per day for long-term care or acute-care facilities. He said there will still need to be screening measures in place at the entrances and there will still need to be enough space between beds on wards with more than one bed.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald said both Pfizer and Moderna are completing studies on the effects of vaccines on children under 12 years old. She said the results of those studies are a long way out, and doesn't anticipate there to be any new information ahead of the school year.
She said the goal is to have children return to school this fall to "as normal a situation as possible," which would include no masks. Fitzgerald said discussions are ongoing with the Department of Education and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.
"Certainly we are working through those plans now, but our goal is to have school this year be as normal as possible," she said.