Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all in the Eastern Health region and close contacts of previous cases.
There are now 84 active cases of the disease in the province, as six people have recovered in the last 24 hours. Newfoundland and Labrador’s total number of COVID-19 cases since last March is now 1,009.
Three people are in hospital, all in intensive care.
There have now been 116,238 people tested for the virus in the province, including 760 in the past day.
Last week, the Department of Health opened up testing to anyone who wants one, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not, to try to find any pockets of the disease that might have been discovered yet. Of the more than 2,000 people who have been tested since Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said between 1,500 and 1,600 tests were of people who were asymptomatic.
Watch Monday’s COVID-19 briefing here:
Fitzgerald said while public health officials have been unable to determine the source of a case announced March 2 in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region, they are confident there has been no further spread of the virus. A health-care worker at the Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony on the Northern Peninsula tested positive. The Health Department set up a drive-thru testing clinic, and no further cases have been found in the area.
“Sometimes as hard as we try, we cannot find the answers we are looking for,” she said.
Alert Level announcement coming Friday
Fitzgerald said the province will be ready to make an announcement Friday about potentially moving out of Alert Level 5 of the province’s tiered system of public health restrictions.
While Fitzgerald moved the province from Level 2 straight into Level 5 when coronavirus variant B117 was found last month, she said it is unlikely the Health Department will skip levels as it loosens restrictions.
“The whole point of this and what we’ve heard in other areas is that you need to reopen slowly,” she said. “As people move about more, as people are busy doing things, we need to make sure we take it slowly so if we start to see a resurgence, it’s not as intense as what we saw initially.”
On the weekend, the premier of Prince Edward Island said he hopes the Atlantic bubble will be back in place by April. During Monday’s briefing, N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said the province will “evaluate the evidence as it evolves” before making a decision on rejoining a regional bubble.
“Our primary focus right now is containing the outbreak that occurred … and to get our own house in order first before considering looking at expanding our involvement in the Atlantic bubble. But it’s certainly something that we’re interested in pursuing,” he said.
Furey said he has spoken with premiers from across the region in recent days but added it’s premature to commit to a date to reopen the bubble.
During Monday’s briefing, Fitzgerald was clear that both pre-registration and vaccinations are free and that public health will not make calls or leave messages regarding vaccines.
“This is a scam,” she said. “Anyone who receives a suspicious telephone call or message should immediately report it to the nearest police detachment.”