Bars are shutting down and restaurants in P.E.I. are closing dining areas as the province continues working to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison provided an update at a news conference on the latest developments today.
She was joined by Health P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, allied health and patient experience, Marion Dowling, who will provide an update on the health system’s preparedness and response to COVID-19.
Throughout the conference, the vital importance of self-isolation, social distancing and the other evolving recommendations were stressed repeatedly by Morrison.
“The best way for us to come together right now is to stay apart.”
When asked at what point the province would decide it was time for Islanders to stay home, Morrison said, it’s now.
“I’m saying stay home unless you need to go to get groceries. I think that’s pretty clear.”
As an update to the confirmed case of the virus, anyone who was on WestJet flight, number 3440, from Toronto to Moncton on March 7 should self-isolate immediately, said Morrison.
A new page on impacted travel was added to the provincial government’s coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) website.
As of the end-of-day Monday, over 150 tests were conducted, with test results from the weekend expected back today.
There is still only one confirmed case on the Island.
Other closures taking effect today include indoor play areas and theatres (including movie theatres). Along with these, optometrists will only take emergency appointments until further notice, while dental clinics will close for the next 14 days and emergency procedures will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Further, wakes at funeral homes will be for family only, with no more than 20 people present, said Morrison.
The essential services plan for Health P.E.I. has been put in place for a three-week window, so any appointments which can be rebooked are being rebooked and essential services have been assigned, said Dowling.
Emergency care services will continue, while in-patient care patients are being prioritized for placement into long-term and community facilities to create more capacity in hospitals. In turn, long-term care will try to maximize their abilities to care for patients in-house and avoid hospital admission if possible.
As for surgery, emergency and essential cases will continue, but those surgeries which can wait at least 21 days will be rescheduled. Similarly, urgent ambulatory care services will continue, but anything which can be safely delayed will be.
Beyond these measures, Dowling said they have begun reallocating staff to essential services, as well as working on a list of retirees and volunteers to help with staffing efforts.
“Please know that Health P.E.I. staff are required, and are following, the CPHO directives on self-isolation and that our staff and patients are being protected as much as possible.”
In an update from Sunday’s briefing, visitation protocols remain in effect and virtual options are being deployed. As well, virtual options are being explored for mental health services and those options should be added to the government’s information page.
The 811 lines, shared between P.E.I. and N.S., are still seeing long wait-times, but an additional 29 registered nurses and 11 new call-takers were added, said Morrison.
“So we are hoping that that, together with Nova Scotia, will help address some of the issues and wait times.”
More details to come later online and in our print and e-editions