P.E.I. has adopted a new alert system to help Islanders navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, announced the system during her weekly COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
There are three levels of alert: green, yellow and red, which represent new normal, caution and restricted, respectively. Each level comes with its own set of rules regarding family and friends, gatherings, recreation, child care, schools and other areas.
P.E.I., which has two active cases and has had 59 total since the pandemic began more than six months ago, will begin at the green level when the system takes effect Oct. 1., Morrison said.
The yellow level adds a few more restrictions, and red is most restrictive. If and when the red level is reached, people will be urged to stay inside as much as possible, organized sports will come to a halt, only essential public services will be available and school education will be delivered remotely.
"We asked ourselves, what are the most important considerations when deciding to ease restrictions or conversely, to impose restrictions," Morrison said.
"There's no one single indicator or factor used to determine our risk level or public health response."
While it is not what we want to do, we have to be prepared to tighten restrictions if necessary. — Dr. Heather Morrison
She said the criteria for making decisions to increase or decrease the alert level centre on five main factors.
- Transmission is controlled (number of cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, deaths).
- Sufficient public health capacity (case detection, contact tracing, testing, isolation).
- Sufficient health system capacity (critical care capacity, personal protective equipment stocks).
- Outbreak risk in vulnerable settings minimized (long-term care homes and correctional facilities).
- Importation of virus managed (border measures, screening, self-isolation requirements).
Throughout the alert levels, priority will be put on services and support for those most vulnerable and, where possible, services will be delivered virtually and individuals will work from home.
"We hope to remain in the new normal phase for the foreseeable future," Morrison said. "While it is not what we want to do, we have to be prepared to tighten restrictions if necessary."
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