Dr Heather Morrison

PEI's Chief Public Health Officer Doctor Heather Morrison has been giving daily updates on the COVID-19 outbreak. Sean MacDougall photo

PEI’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr Heather Morrison says the province is keeping an eye on the province’s only two testing facilities, in Charlottetown and Summerside, which opened last week, and are looking into options for testing in rural communities.

The province announced on Monday that PEI is in a public health state of emergency.

Also as of Monday the two clinics had completed 122 tests for the COVID-19 virus.

“We need to look at those processes, the number of people coming to those sites and try to figure out are there different ways of getting people tested in other parts of the island,” Dr Morrison said.

“We’re trying to make sure if people need testing and they have, for instance mobility issues, can we figure something different out.”

Dr Morrison said there has also been discussion about using paramedics for mobile testing and it depends on “resources, and the people who can do the testing and the numbers.”

If anyone showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus goes to a hospital, an isolation procedure would begin with the individual putting on a mask and they would then be asked about their travel history.

They would also be placed in a negative-pressure room within the hospital. These rooms are commonly used in hospitals and use a ventilation system that forces exhaust air out. The only method of air getting in is gaps on the bottom of doorways.

The Graphic asked to speak with someone in Health PEI about specific isolation measures at Kings County Memorial Hospital and Western Hospital and was told Dr Morrison is the lead spokesperson on all topics related to the COVID-19 virus.

The province has also announced all early child care centres in the province will be closed indefinitely. All public schools will remain closed for a minimum of two weeks following March Break which started on Monday.

Additional measures will restrict visitations to long-term care facilities both public and private along with limiting hospitals to essential services.

“If people are ill, do not come to visit anyone in our care settings,” said Marion Dowling, Chief of Health PEI.

As of Monday evening the province had one confirmed case of COVID-19. A woman, in her 50s, from Queens County tested positive for the virus after travelling internationally aboard a cruise ship.

Dr Morrison said the patient is experiencing mild symptoms and remains in isolation.

Since confirming the positive case of COVID-19, Health PEI has completed a ‘contact tracing’ process. This means the province reached out to the people who came in close contact with the patient from the time she returned to PEI to the time she self-isolated.

Dr Morrison stressed Islanders are asked to cancel nonessential travel outside the country.

“It’s important to mention essential travel is fine but we do think people (involved with essential travel) should monitor for symptoms every day,” she said, adding that essential travel means the movement of goods and the transportation of people across borders such as truck drivers and airline crews.

Anyone who has travelled outside the country from March until now is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days.

“As soon as a person who is self-isolating shows symptoms then anyone who lives with them should also self-isolate and monitor for symptoms while test results come back,” Dr Morrison said.

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