A legal requirement for Prince Edward Islanders to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19, due to possibly be lifted Thursday, has been extended indefinitely.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 must to isolate for seven days (after the onset of symptoms or a positive test) regardless of vaccination status. Individuals who are immunocompromised must isolate for 10 days.
The province had announced a possible end the self-isolation requirement on June 30, but on that day announced a two-week extension.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus here on the Island ... since the middle of June it has been steadily increasing and particularly in the last two weeks, there's been a surge," acting P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr Eilish Cleary, who is replacing a vacationing Dr. Heather Morrison, said in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
Thursday's announcement did not include a new date for when the requirement to quarantine might end.
"We don't see that this increase in cases is going to settle down in the near future," Cleary said, characterizing this increase as a "wave."
The most recent data from the province shows the daily number of diagnosed cases has almost tripled from a low point at the end of May.
Also included in the indefinite extension is a requirement to mask in high-risk areas, such as hospitals and community care homes.
Cleary urged Islanders to get up to date on vaccinations as soon as possible and to wear a mask when in crowded or indoor public places.
Also important, she said, is to get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Earlier this week the Department of Health reported there had been no Omicron BA.4 or BA.5 subvariants found in clinical test results, but some trace amounts found in wastewater in Charlottetown and Summerside.
On Thursday, the Chief Public Health Office reported all the recent results from genetic sequencing received from the National Microbiology Lab were all identified as BA.4 and BA.5. Those subvariants have been driving a seventh wave in other Canadian provinces.
Another change announced Thursday is that people who previously tested positive and have symptoms of COVID-19 will be considered reinfected if they have a positive test result as early as 60 days after their previous positive test, a reduction from 90 days. Cleary said public health officials had been hoping infection would provide long-lasting immunity from reinfection, but that has not turned out to be the case due to the emergence of new variants. Vaccines, which protect against severe infection or death, do not prevent infection.
More big news on the COVID-19 front: Health Canada now says the Moderna vaccine can be given to young children between the ages of six months and five years in doses one-quarter the size of those approved for adults. The agency says clinical trials showed the vaccine IS safe and effective.
The national advisory committee on immunization is recommending young kids get two shots, eight weeks apart.
There is no word yet when P.E.I. parents will be able to make that first shot appointment.