No new cases over Easter weekend

·2 min read

Despite a three-day hiatus from reporting numbers, and a scare surrounding the emergency department at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador came up with a goose egg Monday for new COVID-19 cases.

There are still four active cases in the province, scattered across the island’s three health regions.

Eastern Health confirmed Monday that a patient who visited the HSC emergency department three times between Sunday, March 28, and Wednesday, March 31, tested positive for COVID-19. Because of privacy regulations, the authority is unable to publicly discuss any specifics regarding the case.

Contact tracing related to potential exposure is completed, and less than 20 staff are off work on self-isolation. More than 50 other individuals — patients and close contacts — have been identified and contacted to schedule COVID-19 testing.

All related COVID-19 test results received so far are negative.

Eastern Health says there has been no impact on services at the Health Sciences Centre.

In a statement, the authority said it has a process in place for anyone entering emergency departments who is at risk of having COVID-19, whether arriving by ambulance or walking in. All patients are screened for COVID-19 with a questionnaire before entering an Eastern Health facility and are given a mask to wear. Patients and support persons are expected to wear the mask provided for the duration of their visit.

If a patient is coming by ambulance, EMS notifies the hospital that there is an ambulance en route with a patient who is suspected of being or is COVID-19-positive. If a patient is unable to answer the questions themselves, a family member will be asked to provide the information and if that information cannot be obtained, the patient will be treated as a suspected COVID-19 case and will be isolated in the ER.

Efforts will be made for any patients who fail the COVID-19 screening assessment to be placed in a private room, negative pressure room or other area away from the general waiting room for triage and appropriate care.

Staff wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow protocols when interacting with the individual in order to keep themselves and other patients safe. There are enhanced cleaning protocols in all ERs and there are plexiglass barriers in between each seat in the Health Sciences Centre's ER.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health reported Monday that a case of unknown origin last week has been traced to a previous case.

The department also advised rotational workers about an identified COVID-19 outbreak at the Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories. The department was notified about the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as individuals from this province work at the site.

Because of the outbreak, workers arriving from that site do not qualify for early release from quarantine based on COVID-19 testing.

Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram