No new COVID-19 cases in Newfoundland, one day after public health emergency declared

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball joins Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald in a COVID-19 update on March 18, 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball joins Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald in a COVID-19 update on March 18, 2020. Facebook: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

One day after declaring a public health emergency from COVID-19, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed it has no new reported cases of the virus.

One of its three existing cases, however, is now confirmed, while the other two remain presumptive. All cases are located in the Labrador-Grenfell provincial health district.

“At this time 684 people have been tested,” said Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, in a Thursday press conference.

“There are 276 people on self-isolation and followed by public health.”

READ MORE: 3 presumptive cases now in Newfoundland and Labrador

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On Wednesday, the N.L. government ordered new social distancing measures as Health Minister John Haggie declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency.

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Public gatherings of more than 50 are banned and facilities that would otherwise accommodate such numbers — including gyms, theatres, arenas and bars must all shut down.

Takeout is still allowed and restaurants can continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Beginning Saturday, liquor stores across the province will also close, although measures to allow phone and email orders are currently being developed.

“I want to continue to stress the important of social distancing,” said Fitzgerald on Thursday.

“I encourage you to talk to your children about why we are all taking these measures now — we want to prevent people from getting sick.”

READ MORE: Candidate calls to suspend N.L. Liberal leadership election due to COVID-19

Meanwhile, Premier Dwight Ball has confirmed that despite the pandemic, its upcoming Liberal leadership election will continue on schedule.

The Liberal party says the in-person convention scheduled for May 8 and 9 in St. John’s will be cancelled, but the campaign and convention, including all voting, will happen online and by phone.

The May vote is set to determine who will be the next leader of the provincial Liberals and the province after Premier Dwight Ball announced his resignation last month.

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Ball has said he would step down once a new party leader is chosen.

Atlantic fisheries ministers collaborate during COVID-19

Atlantic Canada’s fisheries ministers and deputy ministers participated in a conference on Wednesday to discuss the impact that COVID-19 is having on the fishing and aquaculture industries.

All four ministers have agreed to regular conference calls until the period of concern over COVID-19 has subsided.

“As the pandemic’s impact on the Atlantic region’s seafood sector evolves, I will continue to work in close collaboration with my Atlantic colleagues to secure the necessary strategies and supports that ensure our respective fishing industries correctly respond and ultimately recover,” Gerry Byrne, Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries and Land Resources Minster, said in a statement.

The province says during the call, minsters expressed the importance of the fishing and aquaculture sectors, discussed the close relationship between the four Atlantic provinces, and agreed to work together with the federal government to find mechanisms to lessen impacts going forward.

With files from The Canadian Press

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