All of N.L. moves to Alert Level 3 as province adds 60 new cases of COVID-19 | CBC News
All of Newfoundland and Labrador is moving to Alert Level 3 effective midnight, said Premier Andrew Furey during a media briefing just hours before the new public health measures will come into effect.
The province also reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday’s update, all of which are under investigation. It ties for the second-highest number of new cases the province has seen in a single day.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said 37 of those cases are in the Eastern Health region, 10 are in the Central Health region, 12 are in the Western region and one is in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region.
Fitzgerald said there have been 12 recoveries, leaving 223 active cases in the province. No one is in hospital due to COVID-19.
Testing across all regions is ramping up, and 3,458 swabs were completed in the last 24 hours.
There are active outbreaks in western, central and eastern portions of the island, Fitzgerald said, noting the active case count jumped from 30 to 223 in just one week. Fitzgerald said health officials anticipate the numbers will continue to rise given the infectiousness of the Omicron variant.
“Our fear is that if we start to see severe illness, it will overwhelm our health-care system which is already stretched,” she said.
“We are pulling health-care staff from other areas to work on COVID response, and we cannot risk a surge in hospitalizations.”
This is a developing news story. A previous version is below.
Health Minister John Haggie says there may be some public health changes coming at a COVID-19 briefing with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald scheduled for 11 a.m. NT.
Haggie says positive cases are trending upward, and so are exposure notifications for businesses, leaving residents scrambling for booster shots and testing as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the province.
“They’re going to climb. This is a replay of Delta with Mount Pearl Senior High, this is a replay of the U.K. variant the wave before that,” Haggie said. “We’re on the upswing.”
Dr. Monika Dutt, medical officer of health for central and western Newfoundland, told CBC Radio’s Newfoundland Morning on Wednesday Omicron cases are now starting to be found on the west coast of the island.
“We’re still at the very beginning of our investigation there,” Dutt said.
“We have started to see a small number in western Newfoundland.”
Western Health is adding additional vaccine booster clinics through the end of December. About 2,000 additional appointment slots were added for next week, with 2,000 appointments already booked for the last two weeks of the year.
Darla King, Western Health’s regional director of community health, advises the public to watch the provincial government’s vaccine booking website as appointments become available.
Haggie echoed what King said for other health regions in the province.
Haggie said 107,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were sent to the province’s regional health authorities Tuesday afternoon. He said there are about 270,000 people eligible for a booster before the new year and at the very beginning of 2022. The province has 214,000 doses ready, and Haggie said 100,000 more will arrive in the next week or so.
King said about 1,500 of those doses were issued to physicians and pharmacists in the western region. She says more testing capacity is opening in the Corner Brook area.
Possible exposure notices are continuing to trickle in across the province on Wednesday. One, issued by the Health Department, is for passengers and crew who travelled on the Labrador Marine Ferry that departed Blanc Sablon for St. Barbe last Friday at 6 p.m. The Department of Health is asking anyone who was on board to seek COVID-19 testing.
The Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador issued its own notice Wednesday morning, saying the provincial court in St. John’s is closing for the day because of a likely COVID-19 exposure.
All cases scheduled for Wednesday will called at the same time Thursday, and public health will contact anyone who may have been exposed for further assessment.
The Health Department says there will be no COVID-19 update over the weekend, while on Monday and Tuesday they will release numbers on their twitter account. A media release on the latest COVID-19 data is expected again Wednesday.
If the circumstances change significantly, the Health Department said advisories will be issued and they will possibly hold a briefing if required.
As of Tuesday’s update the province had 175 active COVID-19 cases, and no one was in hospital.