P.E.I. chief health officer hopes Atlantic bubble reopens in couple of months

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CHARLOTTETOWN — The chief medical health officer in Prince Edward Island says she hopes the Atlantic travel bubble could reopen as early as April 1.

A final decision, however, rests with the region's premiers, Dr. Heather Morrison said Tuesday, adding that a jump in COVID-19 cases could halt plans to reopen provincial boundaries.

"It is hoped that could take place by the first of April, knowing that things within a day could change, or a phone call could change that," Morrison told reporters in Charlottetown.

Low case numbers last summer led to the travel bubble, permitting Atlantic residents to travel within the region's four provinces without having to isolate for two weeks.

"I'm hopeful about an Atlantic bubble earlier in the spring than we had last year, but that will be a decision with the premiers, based on our epidemiology in Atlantic Canada," Morrison said. "We'll continue to watch and see what that means for travel outside of the Atlantic region as well."

Prince Edward Island reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday. Morrison said it involves a man in his 30s who tested positive in another province where he is isolating. There are four active reported cases of COVID-19 on the Island.

Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s top nurse, said technical issues with a telephone line to register for COVID-19 vaccinations have been resolved. The line was opened last week for people over the age of 80 and many people complained of long waits to get through.

She said people are staffing 10 phone lines to handle the volume. "We now have more than 2,750 people aged 80 and over who have been given two appointments for their vaccinations through the vaccination call-in line," she said Tuesday.

Morrison said as of Saturday, more than 8,800 doses of the vaccine had been administered, including over 3,500 second doses.

"P.E.I. received a smaller shipment of Moderna vaccine last week — 700 doses compared to 1200 doses, which we initially expected," Morrison said. "The weekly shipments of Pfizer vaccine are confirmed for the next three weeks and we are awaiting the shipment schedule for the rest of March."

She said rotational workers and truck drivers who have registered with the province will soon be contacted with appointment dates for their COVID-19 vaccinations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

The Canadian Press