As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, NL changes travel restrictions and suspends Atlantic bubble

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Newfoundland and Labrador interim Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Rosann Seviour, announced 14 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Tuesday. (Patrick Butler / Radio-Canada)

Newfoundland and Labrador added 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, all in the central health region, where cases continue to rise.

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Rosann Seviour told reporters on Tuesday that all new cases were under investigation, adding that there was also a suspected positive case in the same region.

The province also reported 10 other recoveries, Seviour said. Two are in Eastern Health Region, six are in Central Health Region and two are in Labrador-Grenfell Health Region.

The number of active cases increases slightly to 159 – 143 of them in the central health region.

There are now four people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We continue to see community transmission in the central region of this province. This, combined with several other clusters in recent weeks, is placing a significant demand on our front-line public health contact tracing resources, ”Seviour said.

“When public health capacity is overwhelmed, it is a signal that we need to strengthen our public health measures.”

Due to a continued increase in COVID cases in Newfoundland and Labrador and epidemiology across the country, the province is making changes to travel restrictions that will take effect Thursday at 12:01 am.

Any traveler who is partially vaccinated, that is, who does not have more than one dose, will now have to meet the same requirements as those who are not vaccinated. They will need to self-isolate for two weeks, but will be able to benefit from a COVID-19 test on days seven to nine of their isolation period.

If this test is negative, that person can come out of isolation.

Watch the full update from September 28:

The province is also suspending the Atlantic bubble, Seviour said, which means travelers from the Atlantic provinces will have to follow the same rules as people arriving from other regions.

“Having an Atlantic bubble was low risk in the summer, when the whole region had a similar epidemiology. This is changing and we are starting to see unfavorable epidemiology in the region as a fourth wave continues across the country,” he said. she declared.

There will be no change for travelers crossing the Quebec-Labrador border, according to Seviour. Anyone living in border communities who has not traveled outside the region in the past 14 days is still allowed to travel to the province without completing the travel form.

Seviour said people are still allowed to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador, but the changes will reduce the risk of importing COVID-19 and give the province leeway to take control of the country. current epidemic on its own ground.

The vaccination passport takes shape

After days of double-digit infection reporting, government and health pleaded with the public on Tuesday afternoon to make an appointment for the vaccine if they hadn’t already done so.

Seviour said emerging evidence on the delta variant indicates that one dose of vaccine alone does not provide sufficient protection.

While 80% of the province’s eligible population has two doses, the delta variant pushes the herd immunity threshold higher, to around 90%, she said.

She said the two-dose rate was missing in the 20- to 39-year-old age range, an issue jurisdictions across Canada are grappling with.

Only 66.4 percent of people in their 20s are fully vaccinated, while 79.8 percent have a dose. People in their 30s reached a similar level, with 69.6% fully vaccinated and 81.1% with a single dose.

Facing the delta, the province continues to develop its plan to roll out a vaccine passport, which Premier Andrew Furey has confirmed will be mandatory for non-essential activities when ready.

Digital Government Minister Sarah Stoodley called the passport “another tool in the toolbox” that will help keep residents safe and businesses open.

This will be a certified record of proof of vaccination that will allow access to a business or location via a digital QR code or a physical copy printed on paper or on a card.

“When the solution is ready, it will take the form of two smartphone applications. A smartphone app for residents and one for the business community, ”Stoodley said.

“Any resident who is fully vaccinated or has an approved medical exemption will be issued a COVID-19 vaccination record in the form of a QR code. “

For those without internet or printer access, Stoodley said a number will be provided where people can call and request that their QR code be mailed to them.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, speaking at a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, urged people to educate themselves about vaccines. (Patrick Butler / Radio-Canada)

Consultations began with the companies on Tuesday, Stoodley said.

The official launch will take place next week, including the name and a full release of details.

“It’s important that when you get this you keep it like you would your MCP card,” Stoodley said.

“It’s a bit personal, it’s important that you protect him.”

Stoodley said NL apps will be secure in terms of the privacy of personal information, saying no information is logged.

Furey said penalties for companies that fail to comply with the passport are still being considered, but “will be in line with those in other jurisdictions.”

Other changes to come

In his opening remarks Tuesday, Furey said the province was in talks with unions to make vaccines mandatory for public employees.

“As a government, we believe it is our responsibility to protect the people we serve,” he said.

“Most want to have some ideas on where we are going with this and what it will actually look like. The general feeling was very receptive.

“It’s not a route we wanted to take from afar, but first and foremost we have a responsibility to the public, and that’s why we made this decision.”

Furey said another media availability will be held on Wednesday with Dr Proton Rahman, a clinical scientist at Eastern Health and professor of medicine at Memorial University, to discuss the current COVID-19 modeling for Newfoundland and -Labrador.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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