Public health measures extended until January 17; 198 new cases of COVID-19 in PEI; rapid screening test update; vaccine update

Press Release

Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has announced that additional public health measures put in place until January 8, will now be extended until January 17.

“I am optimistic that 2022 will be the year we find our new normal. This will be the year we transition from pandemic to endemic state, where transmission is stable, and where we really will be living with COVID-19, knowing it is circulating in our community. Although the high case counts and COVID-related challenges we are dealing with are disheartening, it is important to remind ourselves that we are doing a lot of things right and we have managed COVID-19 and its variants well, but must continue to do so.”

– Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison

The extended public health measures include:

  • Personal gatherings limited to 10 steady contacts plus household, the smaller the better.
  • Wedding receptions and funeral receptions and wakes/visitation are not permitted.
  • All organized gatherings (including worship services, theatres, wedding and funeral ceremonies and concerts) must operate with a maximum of 50 people with physical distancing between households. Multiple cohorts are not permitted.
  • Gyms, fitness facilities and retail can continue to operate up to 50 per cent capacity with physical distancing and masks.
  • Visitation to long term and community care is limited to three partners in care plus three designated visitors with physical distancing.
  • Physical distancing is required in all venues up to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity in retail businesses and vax pass events (including theatres, gyms, community gatherings, casinos, etc.).
  • Restaurants and eating establishments must maintain six feet distance between tables with a maximum table size of 10 people. Proof of vaccine is required for all patron and masking is required at all times except when eating or drinking. Food premises and eating establishments must stop food and beverage service at approximately 11:00 pm and close by midnight.
  • No dancing at events and no karaoke.
  • Indoor sport and recreational activities continue to be paused for Island children under the age of 12 years, including organized sports, tournaments, competitions, games, team training and practices.
  • League play and practices for individuals over the age of 12 are paused.
  • Whenever possible, employers should support employees to work from home.

Dr. Morrison announced 198 new cases and 34 recoveries of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island.

These new cases are still under investigation and contact tracing is underway.  There are currently 1,159 active cases of COVID-19 and there have been 1,862 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Over the last seven days there have been an average of 138 cases per day. In the last week 17% of cases were in individuals under 20 years of age.

Three individuals are in hospital being treated for COVID-19. One of the hospitalized individuals is currently in the Intensive Care Unit. There are currently four individuals in hospital for other reasons who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Over the last week, over 15,500 COVID-19 tests have been completed, an increase of 12 per cent over the previous week.

As of Friday, December 31, there have been approximately 250,0000 rapid screening tests distributed in PEI. In January, it is expected that PEI will receive over 460,000 additional rapid screening tests (300,000 from the federal government and 162,000 from a private supplier.

The first shipment of over 100,000 screening test kits from the federal government is expected this week and will be distributed to schools to support students and staff. Beginning today, rapid screening tests will be distributed to early learning child care centres across the province to ensure all children and staff have access for the next few weeks. Like some other provinces, there will be limited public access to rapid screening test kits for the next few weeks.

“The increasing rates of COVID-19 highlights the importance of getting a booster dose of mRNA vaccine to provide protection against severe outcomes,” said Dr. Morrison. “Getting a booster at six months after your last dose provides longer term and additional protection, reducing the risk of hospitalization, especially for those age 50 years and older.”

It is not necessary to receive the same vaccine for a booster dose as was received for first and second doses. Boosters can be booked two weeks prior to the six month anniversary of your last dose.

In order to preserve the limited capacity of Health PEI testing clinics, until further notice, testing will continue to be limited to the following:

  • Symptomatic individuals
  • Close contacts of positive cases
  • Confirmatory tests for individuals who test preliminary positive at a point-of-entry
  • Confirmatory tests for individuals who test preliminary positive with a rapid antigen test

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate until they are able to be tested and continue to isolate after being tested until a negative result is received.
Individuals who do not have symptoms do not require testing (unless in one of the above categories, for example: close contacts). Those who are presenting for testing related to travel (for example: day 4 tests) will be provided with at home rapid antigen tests, two tests to be taken 48 hours apart.

Islanders are reminded that supports are available for those impacted by COVID-19.  The Prince Edward Island Emergency Payment for Workers, Emergency Income Relief for Self-Employed, and the COVID-19 Special Leave Fund programs are now accepting applications.  Islanders may also be eligible for programs through the Government of Canada such as the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (link is external), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (link is external) or the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (link is external).

Individuals who are isolating and require supports are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to be directed to nearby community support systems, or provincial government service offices.  This assistance includes help with securing food, personal prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and other emergency situations.  A modified school food lunch program is also available to have pre-cooked meals delivered to homes starting this week.  The program operates on a self-referral basis.  More information is available here.

As always, all Islanders are urged to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19, even after a previous negative test, and to self-isolate until the results come back. Islanders are also encouraged to download the free national COVID Alert app (link is external), which will let them know if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Saturday, January 1, 2022, 95.5 per cent of eligible Island residents age 12 years and over have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 92.3 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses. 41.9 per cent of children age 5-11 years have received their first dose. Over 20,500 people have received their third dose of COVID-19 booster.
Individuals should book their booster appointment for six months after their last dose. Getting a booster is an important layer or protection against serious illness related to the Omicron variant.

Anyone age 12 and over can receive their COVID-19 vaccination at one of the Health PEI clinics (link is external) or at one of the 28 partner pharmacies across the province. Island children between the ages of five and 11 years can now receive their COVID-19 vaccination at Health PEI clinics.

For information on PEI’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including vaccine facts, immunization data and booking an appointment, visit: COVID-19 Vaccines. For answers to commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit: Answers to Common COVID-19 Vaccine Questions.

For the latest information about Prince Edward Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Prince Edward Island.

Backgrounder:

The Chief Public Health Office continues to work closely with the federal government, provincial and territorial counterparts, government departments and Health PEI to monitor the pandemic situation and prepare for all COVID-19 related impacts to the province, including health, social and economic. The public health risk of COVID-19 is continually reassessed, and Islanders will be updated as new information becomes available.

Everyone is encouraged to follow routine prevention measures:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a properly fitted, three-layer mask in indoor public places and in outdoor public places where physical distancing from others cannot be maintained
  • Keep your circle of contacts small
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Physical distance – stay two meters (6 feet) apart
  • Don’t share items like drinking glasses and water bottles
  • Frequently clean surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Visit a drop-in-clinic to be tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Media Contacts:
Samantha Hughes
Health and Wellness
(902) 316-1323
shughes@gov.pe.ca (link sends e-mail)

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