P.E.I. looking to ease restrictions amid low COVID-19 infection rate
By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island’s premier says public health orders should soon be eased across the province because of its low COVID-19 infection rate.
“At a time when other jurisdictions are experiencing tightening restrictions and increased lockdowns, we are in the very fortunate and enviable situation to be looking at the days ahead to see an easing of restrictions within our borders,” Dennis King told reporters Tuesday.
But King said it won’t be until at least mid-February before the Island re-enters the Atlantic bubble, which allows residents to travel freely between regional boundaries. “At this time, as a province, we are not comfortable moving forward with re-entering the Atlantic Bubble,” King said.
Health officials in Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said the new cases involved a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada.
She said there are now seven active reported cases on the Island. Morrison, however, said she’s concerned by the situation beyond P.E.I.’s borders.
“The situation in Canada remains concerning, with over 715,000 cases and 18,000 COVID-related deaths,” she told reporters. “Since Jan. 1, New Brunswick reported 372 new cases, Nova Scotia 60 new cases, P.E.I. has had 12 since Jan. 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new infections.
“Our friends and neighbours in New Brunswick are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, reporting 89 new cases in the last three days. They currently have over 300 active cases — the most since the pandemic began,” she said.
P.E.I. has reported 110 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. Indoor private gatherings are limited to members of a household plus ten people, while most businesses are still required to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The restrictions are scheduled to remain until Jan. 25.
Morrison said that as of Monday, 5,910 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered on P.E.I., including 1,407 second doses.
“By the end of this week, everyone living and working in long-term care and community care facilities will have received their first dose of the vaccine,” she said. “They will start receiving their second dose next week.”
Morrison said the anticipated slowdown in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have very little impact on the Island.
“The Pfizer slowdown means that we may not get a shipment of the product for one week, on Jan. 25. That shipment contains 975 doses. However, we will get two shipments of that same amount in the middle of February,” she said.
“Given the fact that we have been holding back the second dose of vaccine, and we expect the increased supply in February, we are confident that we have enough vaccine to continue with our original plan.”