P.E.I. now has five confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday evening, chief health officer Heather Morrison confirmed two more individuals have tested positive for the virus.
The two individuals were both returning travellers, one from the Dominican Republic and one from the United States. Both individuals were men in their 30's in Queens county. The individual returning form the US was arrived on the 13th of March and was tested on the 19th. The individual returning from the Dominican Republic returned on the 19th and was tested on the 23rd.
Both individuals self-isolated upon returning to P.E.I., Morrison said, and are currently doing well. Morrison said more details would be released on Thursday.
There was a significant delay in receiving the results from the tests of these and other Islanders. Earlier in the day Wednesday, Morrison admitted to frustration with a delay in receiving coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) test results from a national lab during a media briefing.
Health authorities have conducted 539 tests for the virus as of Wednesday, with the five confirmed cases on P.E.I. so far. But health authorities had waited four days before receiving Wednesday's results.. Current negative cases are at 326, while the number awaiting results is at 208.
P.E.I. currently sends tests to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, which has been faced with a backlog in tests from other regions. The lab, along with testing labs in other provinces, is also facing a global shortage of reagents – chemicals needed to complete the tests.
"Patients who have been tested are frustrated waiting for their results. I'm frustrated, and it is a difficult thing to wait for results to come back,” Morrison said.
“I know that the National Microbiology Lab is doing the best they can in a situation where they're having to test thousands of people."
Individuals who have been tested have been instructed by health authorities to self-isolate while awaiting results.
Morrison said the delays may be due to a large batch of tests from the weekend. She said testing labs in other provinces, such as New Brunswick, are also at maximum capacity.
Health authorities plan to open a local testing lab on P.E.I., but it could be weeks before such a lab is up and running.
"Once that happens the only tests we would be sending off to the National Microbiology Lab would be our positive tests," Morrison said.
Positive tests require a secondary confirmation from the national lab until provincial labs have confirmed 50 cases.
Morrison reiterated the importance of 14-day self-isolation for individuals who have travelled outside of Canada or the province, as well as maintaining a two-metre safe social distance to prevent the spread of infections.
Morrison clarified that individuals in self-isolation should not leave their homes to go for walks and should only go outside if they are able to stay on their own property. Previously, the Chief Public Health Office had indicated individuals in self-isolation could go on walks and obtain fresh air outside as long as they maintained a two-metre distance from anyone else.
Morrison also said a national emergency strategic stockpile mini-clinic will be deployed in the coming days on P.E.I. The federal clinic is used in provincial emergency situations and will function as a testing site apart from acute care facilities.
Marion Dowling, Health P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, said health authorities have enough protective equipment for staff, including masks, respirators and protective gowns. But Dowling said she anticipated an increased demand in the event of hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
"The same suppliers we look to for equipment are often working with many other health agencies. Like everyone else, we're placed on allocation from some of our suppliers," Dowling said.
"We will do everything in our ability to have the supplies that we need as we face this pandemic."