Newfoundland and Labrador reports Atlantic region’s first COVID-19 death
Nova Scotia imposing fines on people caught ignoring orders
By Michael MacDonald
ST. JOHN’S — Newfoundland and Labrador has reported the first death related to COVID-19 in the Atlantic region.
The province’s Health Department said Monday it would release details later in the day. As of Sunday, Newfoundland and Labrador was reporting 135 confirmed cases — the second-highest per capita infection rate in Canada, after Quebec.
Provincial officials have attributed the growth of infections in Newfoundland and Labrador to a cluster of cases linked to two services held earlier this month at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s.
As of late Saturday, 99 of the province’s 135 infections were linked to the two funerals, according to Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
On March 15, Nova Scotia became the last province in Canada to report a case of COVID-19. Since then, the Atlantic region has reported 334 confirmed cases, with 122 in Nova Scotia, 66 in New Brunswick and 11 in Prince Edward Island — although the Island did not update its numbers over the weekend.
No Atlantic province aside from Newfoundland and Labrador has reported a death related to the virus.
Fines issued by police
Meanwhile, police in Nova Scotia are getting serious about imposing fines on people caught ignoring provincial orders aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
On Sunday, Halifax Regional Police handed a $697 fine to a woman who was walking in Point Pleasant Park, which has been closed to visitors since the province declared a state of emergency on March 22.
The 44-year-old woman was found in the park by a police service dog and her car was impounded.
“These measures have been proposed to address the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis we are facing as a community,” police said in a statement. “It requires everyone to be mindful of their obligations on social distancing, gatherings and other precautionary measures.”
On Saturday, the Truro Police Service handed a summary offence ticket to a 65-year-old man for failing to self-isolate. Police said they received several complaints alleging the man was “blatantly disregarding” rules requiring people entering the province to remain in isolation for two weeks.
Police Chief Dave MacNeil said the man was charged with violating the province’s Health Protection Act, which he said carries a fine between $700 and $1,000.
“We had a couple of complaints about the same individual,” MacNeil said in an interview Monday. “We believe people should be educated about this by now. In order for this to be preventative, we needed to take some action.”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said Sunday he was frustrated by reports of what he called, “the reckless few” — people violating directives and visiting parks and beaches that have been closed.
He warned that if people don’t obey the rules, “police will do it for you.”
Care workers test positive
On Sunday, Nova Scotia confirmed three workers at three separate long-term care homes had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said tests of residents and other employees who may have been in contact with the infected workers have come back negative.
Strang said the employees who tested positive had stopped going to work and stayed home before showing symptoms.
Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the majority of those who contract the virus recover.
For some, however, including Canadians aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems and people with underlying conditions, the illness can be much more severe. Among the Canadians diagnosed with the illness so far, fewer than 10 per cent have required hospitalization, with fewer than five per cent of cases admitted to the ICU.
With files from Holly McKenzie-Stewart and Michael Tutton