As Newfoundland and Labrador gradually lift public health restrictions, the province is seeing an increase in COVID-19 activity, the chief medical officer of health says.
Doctor. Janice Fitzgerald said rising numbers are expected as the province moves toward the target date of March 14, when the health department plans to lift all restrictions. Fitzgerald said masks would still be strongly recommended.
Fitzgerald said there had been 287 new cases since Wednesday, with 206 new recoveries, raising the province’s known active caseload to 1,902. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has come down from one to 17.
“Our hospitalization rate has remained relatively stable over the past few weeks and is within manageable levels,” Fitzgerald said.
“That’s why we’re moving to lift more restrictions next week, while we continue to monitor the indicators closely.”
Fitzgerald said the public health restrictions were never meant to be permanent, and the response with Omicron is different. She said testing, isolation, vaccination and personal protection measures will remain an important part of living with the virus.
“It is time to exit crisis mode and begin a more sustainable approach to managing COVID-19 while we are able to do so,” she said.
On Monday gyms and fitness facilities, restaurants and religious ceremonies where the province’s vaccine passport is required were able to open up to 75 percent capacity. The limit for informal gatherings was raised to 25 people, and retail stores were able to open without any capacity restrictions.
Further restrictions will be eased on March 7.
Check out the full update for February 24:
close contact change
As of Friday, asymptomatic household contacts of positive cases, who have been fully vaccinated, can follow a modified five-day isolation protocol, which includes testing. They can attend work, school, daycare and after-school events, but must otherwise self-isolate.
Household contacts who have not been fully vaccinated must completely self-isolate for seven days, a change from the previous 10-day rule.
“If you’ve had a COVID infection in the past three months, you don’t need testing, and only isolate if you develop symptoms,” Fitzgerald said.
For asymptomatic non-household contacts, there are no self-isolation or testing requirements. However, for a week after their last contact with someone who has COVID-19, they should monitor for symptoms, wear a mask outside their home, and avoid crowded areas, unless it is their work. not necessary for If they develop symptoms they should get tested and self-isolate.
Symptomatic non-household contacts should completely self-isolate and follow testing instructions. If they test negative, they can leave isolation when symptoms improve, if they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours.
Health Minister John Hagee said the changes were based on “sound public health advice”.
Fitzgerald said she understands that people are concerned that the easing of restrictions increases the risk for older family members in health care facilities who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, but added They also run the risk of not getting the care they need if they don’t have enough workers. Available if restrictions are not eased.
“We’ve watched it very carefully,” she said. “Those who are domestic contacts are being tested. This is not without any precaution. We are checking for COVID.”
Hagi said 1,030 health care workers are in isolation as of Thursday, 221 of them COVID-19 positive.
test and travel changes
There will also be a change in the online application for booking PCR test, which will now be called the Online Self-Assessment and Test Reporting Tool.
People can use it to report their own COVID-19 rapid test results. Fitzgerald said reporting the test results is voluntary.
“We have a number of indicators that help us measure the level of COVID activity, and it would compliment those measures,” she said.
Haggi said provincial travel restrictions will also be lifted on Monday, meaning travelers to Canada are no longer required to self-isolate, complete tests or complete the province’s travel form.
He said rapid test kits would no longer be distributed to passengers at maritime Atlantic ferries or airports in the province. Border screeners will also be shifted back to their regular jobs.
“We know the virus is endemic here. It’s everywhere, and the biggest source is probably people from the province rather than travelers,” Hagie said.
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