'We're doing OK' with Omicron, says P.E.I. premier

·2 min read

P.E.I. has been seeing record case counts of COVID-19 for weeks, with current active cases well over 1,000, but Premier Dennis King says that was expected from this new more contagious variant.

"We're right where we thought we would be when Omicron was arriving," King told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin Tuesday.

"It came a little more quickly than we thought but so far we're doing OK."

King said the province's basic plan for dealing with the pandemic has not changed. He is taking advice from the Chief Public Health Office that is based on the best science available, and he said he will continue to do that.

He said politicians following their own instincts in other jurisdictions has led to catastrophic results.

Unprecedented numbers

P.E.I. has not seen anything like the wave of cases in the last three weeks.

Previously, the record number of active cases was 47. P.E.I. announced 198 cases on Tuesday alone. That's the same number of cases the province saw in the first 13 months of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases on P.E.I.

King said he understands that can be jarring.

"Islanders have not seen numbers like this and we've been conditioned to try and avoid the high numbers," he said.

But he said Omicron is different — more contagious but less virulent — and requires a different response.

"If you contract Omicron and you're fully vaccinated the odds of you getting really sick are 60 or 70 per cent lower," he said.

"It won't just be case counts in the future. We won't wait until we get to zero case counts to work our way back to normal."

He said despite the rising case counts he believes the Island's high vaccination rate will see the province through this wave.

Too much or too little?

Despite the rising case counts, King said he feels Islanders are much closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning.

Earlier this week, Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker expressed concern that the province is not doing enough to prevent the spread of Omicron. King said the province's level of response is always on his mind.

"The question you ask yourself every day is, 'Is it enough?' That's what we've been struggling with here for 22 months," he said.

"Some people think it's too much and some people think it isn't enough. And, you know, all I can say to Islanders is we've been following the same consistent approach from the beginning."

He described the measures P.E.I. currently has in place as strict, and said if there is a scientific argument for changing them he will.

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