Today a press conference was held featuring Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr Robert Strang. Here is a summary of what was discussed:

  • Back to school welcoming
  • Testing has been ramped up due to the 3200 students arriving in the last few weeks
  • The last new case which was under investigation is a home care nurse in the central region. They had COVID-19 several months ago and recovered. The latest test was inconclusive. Is this a case of reinfection, or not? Out of caution, we are assuming it's a new, positive case until we get results back (if we ever do from federal lab). They were working with proper PPE and contact tracing is happening as well as establishing any exposure of people they were serving in their home care role
  • Reiteration of updated COVID-19 symptoms list
  • Situation with students from outside the Atlantic Bubble going very well. Compliance with digital check in has been very good, and it's good news we had just 3 cases reported in the first 3200 students. Shows the risk is low and our measures are appropriate and working.
  • Long lineup at a local bar on the weekend, without distancing. This is a high risk incident. Reference to the BC decision to close nightclubs due to the contribution of cases in BC. We have enforcement on the ground but patrons also need to take responsibility. We need to socialize but do so safely. Respect distancing when out at bars and in lineups. Wearing masks does not mean you can forget about distancing.
  • How do students with roommates isolate? Do not have visitors, stay separate as much as possible and practice proper hand hygiene. Keep shared spaces clean and open windows where possible.
  • Students need to be careful as this age group is where their are surging cases across the country. Everyone needs to practice COVID-19 safety to help keep each other safe. Wear a mask where necessary, social distance, proper hand hygiene, don't go to large parties. This will keep us safe, especially our vulnerable populations
  • Pandemic has been particularly difficult on LTC residents, but they are still the most at risk and we must be very careful with these facilities. We have been able to gradually loosen visitor restrictions. Outdoor then indoor visits. Offsite medical appts and onsite hair salons. Liability concerns have been addressed through the health protection act as well. As of Sept 11, a designated caregiver can now help care for ans support a loved one in a LTC facility. This person (2 per resident, one at a time) must have an established care relationship prior to the pandemic. These people will be trained on proper hygiene etiquette like wearing a mask and proper hand hygiene. Medical masks will be provided and they will be screened each time they enter.
  • Care for each other, keep communities safe by following measures to maintain our label as "The New Zealand of North America". We can remain in a safe place is we don't ease up, wear masks, social distance and practice good hygiene.

Questions from Reporters:

  • Do you have concerns over the possible reinfection case? It's important as it has implications for how we understand immunity which might mean we cant count on one infections providing lifelong immunity. This is typical for respiratory viruses. There are already some documented cases in the world of reinfection but we still want to establish if this is the case with our latest case.
  • Canada Games Centre situation - was this a travel related case? Any more details? We do a public announcement even if there is just a modest risk of exposure if it's hard to establish all those who may have been in contact with an individual.
  • If the nurse became reinfected, any idea how they may have caught it again, and what is the risk to the people they were treating? There is no clear indication of how they may have caught it again. It may be that we are still detecting residual virus. We are still investigating. We are currently assessing the risks to others. Public Health is following up with each person who may have had exposure. Some may not be considered a close contact for exposure purposes.
  • How does the desire to stay "like New Zealand" impact how we move forward with restrictions such as the 14 day quarantine? We need to see 28 days of low cases, which we have now seen, We need to balance people's concerns with the economic health and reality that we need to live with the virus. We are not there yet, it will all be part of the analysis.
  • Returning workers in NB are not required to isolate, NFLD only requires 7 days with a negative test, similar to PEI. Is NS considering an approach like this? We are looking at various options with public health. We are trying to balance the high risk environments such as work camps, with the imposition this has on these individuals. We are considering a modified isolation requirement for these people. More to come.
  • Halloween, any thoughts? No reason to not be able to practice Halloween safely. We are not looking to put any restrictions on Halloween. We are working on messaging but this will be up to each family how they choose to celebrate and give out candy.
  • Last time gathering restrictions were eased was in June, will that change from 10 people at anytime (with distancing)? We continue to look at that. This is one of our public health measures. There is no decision made but we said we were not going to do that in relation to sports or theatre at the end of August so we can focus on education.
  • Why are we considered to be in a good positions to deal with a 2nd wave? Lots of testing capacity (went from 200 to 1500+ and we can go beyond that if necessary), 26 primary assessment centres, contact tracing and citizens practicing all preventative measures to keep each other safe. Managing the balance of who can come in the Province since we can't stay locked down like we were in April and May.
  • Contact Tracing App, when will we use it? It has been implemented in Ontario and now Newfoundland. The utility of this depends on how many people use it, the parameters that trigger a notification and what the follow up is. Ontario rises concerns about the amount if people following up with public health if the parameters of notification are too loose. We want to learn more.
  • Will public health be testing all the clients of the nurse who may be reinfected, and any Northwood connection? No Northwood connection. Personal assessments will determine who is tested.
  • Did the nurse ever have a negative test? No, previously, they met the criteria for being classed as resolved.
  • Why are we limiting testing symptoms? The new list is actually how positive cases are presenting. We wanted a low threshold before but we learned it was unnecessarily broad as people with just those symptoms is now how COVID-19 presents. Threshold is still appropriately low.

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