P.E.I. reports five new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday; reinstating mandatory masks Friday

Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday as the active number of cases in the province rises to 27.

During a news update on Wednesday, P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed that four of the new cases involve close contacts of previously reported cases associated with the outbreak at West Royalty Elementary.

Morrison says those four cases previously tested negative, and subsequently tested positive, highlighting the importance of repeated testing of close contacts. They have already been self-isolating, and contact tracing is ongoing.

“Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to link any of these cases to travel outside of the province. As such, we are dealing with community transmission of COVID-19 in the Greater Charlottetown Area,” said Morrison on Wednesday.

The other positive case reported Wednesday is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Three of the new cases involve people between the ages of 10-19, one involves a person in their 20s, and one involves a person in their 40s.

Since Saturday, P.E.I. has reported 20 cases of COVID-19; 12 associated with the West Royalty Elementary outbreak, two associated with Charlottetown Rural, two associated with Stratford Elementary School, three cases related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and one close contact of a previously announced case.

Morrison says there are currently over 400 close contacts, who may be legally required to self-isolate depending on vaccination status.

Prince Edward Island currently has 27 active cases of COVID-19 and has had 260 positive cases since the pandemic began.

As of Saturday, Sept. 11, a total of 247,385 doses of vaccine have been administered. So far, 92.2 per cent of the eligible population have received at least one dose and 83.7 per cent have received two doses.

The province says approximately 42,000 people in P.E.I. are not fully vaccinated, including 30,000 who haven’t received one dose of the vaccine.

MANDATORY MASKS, GATHERING LIMITS TO BE REINSTATED FRIDAY

Dr. Heather Morrison also announced Wednesday that P.E.I. will be reinstating several COVID-19 restrictions as of Friday morning.

“In order to further protect Islanders by limited importation and transmission of COVID-19, and also provide additional support for our children to remain in school, we will take the additional following steps,” said Morrison on Wednesday.

As of 8 a.m. on Sept. 17, wearing a mask will be mandatory in public places.

Personal gathering limits will also be limited to 20 people, a decrease from 50.

Masks will be mandatory in locations including but not limited to:

  • Stores and retail businesses
  • Personal services and salons
  • Restaurants, except for while eating and drinking
  • Arts, sports and recreation facilities, except during exercise
  • Places of worship
  • Government buildings
  • Taxis and public transit
  • Workplaces that are open to the public

Children under the age of two are exempted, as are people who have valid medical reasons such as active breathing problems, or cannot remove a mask without assistance.

P.E.I. previously lifted their mandatory mask restriction on July 9.

“We still remain in a very fortunate position here in Prince Edward Island. The steps we’ve taken will allow P.E.I. to stay open, to have our kids in school, our health services interrupted, to have family visiting loved ones in long-term care centres, and our ultimate goal is to stay open while keeping Islanders safe, and have as normal a life as we can have during this fourth wave of COVID-19 in our country,” said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King during Wednesday’s news update.

CHARLOTTETOWN SCHOOLS TO REOPEN THURSDAY

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King also announced Wednesday that several Charlottetown schools that were closed on Sunday for three days will return to in-person learning on Thursday.

“During the past four days, we have been able to identify close contacts and arrange for them to be tested, retested and isolate.

All Charlottetown schools will return to in-person learning on Thursday, with the exception of West Royalty Elementary, who will resume in-person classes on Monday, Sept. 20.

“As previously announced, all schools across the province will be under enhanced restrictions under the back-to-school plan, with some modifications including masking at all times for grades four to 12,” said King during Wednesday's news update.

This is a developing story and will be updated.