Positive cases of COVID-19 at Grand Bank sparked two rushed press conferences Thursday, as Newfoundland and Labrador public health officials sought to allay fears of rural town residents of about 2,500 inhabitants.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Janice Fitzgerald said on Thursday there were now four cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Bank community, all of which appear to be connected, one of which involves a tenant at the facility Blue Crest Cottages Retreat.The province reported a new case of COVID-19 on Thursday – an eastern health region man over 70 and close contact of a previous case announced a day ago.
The most recent case is not a resident of Blue Crest Cottages, according to a press release from the Department of Health.
At present, public health officials say there is no evidence of spread in the community.
“At this point, what we’re seeing is that all of these cases are linked, so we don’t see any spread beyond this cluster,” Fitzgerald said Thursday.
“I know it is alarming for the community when situations like these arise, and I warn people not to panic or contribute to the rumor mill. ”
COVID-19 briefings, led by Fitzgerald and Health Minister John Haggie, are typically scheduled once a week, on Wednesdays. However, one of them was called just an hour before the start Thursday.
It was preceded by a media availability with Eastern Health Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Allison as well as CEO David Diamond as the health authority and the provincial government moved to dispel rumors and address concerns and social concerns. media, with the news of the province’s latest small cluster of COVID-19 which has been gathering momentum since Wednesday afternoon.
The man in Thursday’s case is self-isolating, the health department said, and contact tracing is ongoing. Anyone considered to be close contact has been notified of the quarantine.
The province now has 10 active cases and two people are hospitalized because of the virus. There have been 294 recoveries and four deaths since March. The province’s total caseload is now 308.
Fitzgerald said the province has been fortunate enough to keep the virus at bay for as long as it has so far, and reiterated the importance of continuing to follow COVID-19 guidelines. She said she suspected the audience was getting more complacent lately.
“We are all tired. I am here today to tell you that our fight is not over and that we must stay the course, ”said Fitzgerald.
Watch the full update from November 19:
Fitzgerald was harsh in reiterating the importance of keeping the number of contacts as low as possible and avoiding gatherings with people outside of close and consistent contact.
“It’s something we all need to take seriously. You just have to look elsewhere in the country to realize how quickly it can get out of hand, ”she said. “And I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the guidelines that we have published. We should see it the same way we saw it in April. ”
“We’re doing our best to have the information as accurate as possible, to get it out as quickly as possible, but at the end of the day we can’t beat the Keyboard Warriors who will stay there and do their job,” Haggie said. .
Fitzgerald said Grand Bank’s index case was not a rotary worker. An index case is the first case identified in a group of related cases.
On Thursday, 57,944 people were tested for COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador – 434 on the last day.
Practice public health measures, be compassionate: mayor
Eastern health officials addressed the situation at Grand Bank ahead of Thursday’s briefing, saying contact tracing was underway in the case of the Blue Crest Cottages which tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
All tenants have been asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Dr David Allison, medical officer of the health authority, said there was “a significant possibility that there are exhibits” in the retirement home.
“This presents a challenge because it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what types of interactions people are having, and yet these people are perhaps the most vulnerable to COVID-19 in our province,” he said.
Allison said there were 23 people living at the facility and a dozen others who have been identified as contacts, although “that’s a number that’s going to change quickly as we move forward. investigation “.
While some people are being tested for COVID-19, Allison pointed out that there is a challenge with these tests so early in the contact tracing process, as the virus has an incubation period of five to 14 days. This means that regardless of the test results, contacts will need to remain isolated for the entire two week period.
With tenants being urged to stay in their apartments, Allison also said the property’s common areas have been cleaned and closed, and tenants can only receive essential visitors to receive care.
The tenant with COVID-19 was a contact of a previously confirmed case.
Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews urged residents to practice vigilant public health measures and be compassionate towards their fellow citizens.
“No one chooses to have this virus, and for those who do, their lives can be very stressful, difficult and overwhelming,” Matthews wrote in a post on the City of Grand Bank Facebook page.
Eastern Health CEO David Diamond also asked for “courtesy and respect” as the contact tracing continues.
“It’s really easy for people to get emotional and upset about these kinds of issues,” he said.
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