N.L. reports case of South African virus variant, one new COVID-19 infection

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting its first case of COVID-19 involving the variant first identified in South Africa.

Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald told reporters Wednesday the previously reported case is travel-related, but the individual involved was able to quickly isolate, mitigating the risk of viral spread.

"We're confident there was no onward transmission and no danger to public safety," she said.

The South African variant is the second mutation of the novel coronavirus that's been identified in the province. The first involved the variant originally identified in the United Kingdom, which officials have said led to a COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John's area in February.

On the vaccine front, Fitzgerald said just under 63,000 shots have been administered, 10,000 of which were second doses.

Officials previously said the goal was to administer a total of 80,000 doses by the end of the upcoming Easter weekend.

Health Minister John Haggie said the province is on track to meet its goal, barring further delays caused by inclement weather, which has already led to some 600 vaccine appointments being cancelled.

"There may be a little bit of slippage because of weather, but I would expect we'll be within a thousand of that even in the worst case scenarios," said Haggie.

Health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 Wednesday, involving a woman in her 40s. Fitzgerald reported two more recoveries, bringing the number of active reported COVID-19 infections in the province to three.

She also said public health officials in the province are asking passengers and crew who travelled on the MV Atlantic Vision ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques overnight from March 27 to March 28 to schedule a COVID-19 test due to a case that was reported Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.