Not self-isolating? Donate blood instead, P.E.I. chief public health officer says

WATCH: Officials in P.E.I. say the second Island resident to test positive for COVID-19 travelled on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Charlottetown on March 11.

Prince Edward Island’s chief medical officer of health is asking anyone who isn’t required to be in self-isolation to head to their nearest blood donation clinic.

“The national supply of blood donation is very important, especially in a time when current events may impact inventory,” Dr. Heather Morrison said a press briefing Friday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canadian Blood Services asking healthy donors to keep appointments

Canadian Blood Services has said it is concerned by a recent spike in appointment cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s asking healthy donors to keep their appointments to prevent shortages.

“There is absolutely no evidence of transfusion transmission for COVID-19, or any other coronavirus,” Dr. Steven Drews, associate director of microbiology at Canadian Blood Services, said in a statement. “This family of respiratory viruses just doesn’t appear to be transfusion-transmitted.”

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Prince Edward Island has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, both in the Queens County area. Both people are recovering at home with mild symptoms.

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On Friday, Morrison discussed flight details of the island’s second case. She said the man in his 40s, who had been travelling in the United Kingdom, flew home on Air Canada flight 756.

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The flight left Toronto at 9:20 a.m. and landed in Charlottetown at 12:28 p.m. on March 11. Morrison said the risk of transmission is low, but said passengers who were on the flight should monitor for symptoms.

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READ MORE: P.E.I.’s second COVID-19 case highlights importance of self-isolation: health official

Morrison says the province has conducted 240 tests so far, with 167 coming back negative and 71 still pending.

The island has shut down all non-essential services, including liquor and cannabis stores, as well as hairdressers, nail salons, malls, pools and fitness facilities. Morrison said businesses continuing to operate should be practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing.

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On Friday, Morrison also stressed the importance of children practicing social distancing. She said children should be encouraged to go outside, but under supervision.

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“Children should be participating in activities that respect that social distancing and that recommendation of keeping two metres apart,” said Morrison.

“This includes sleepovers. Sleepovers should not happen.”

READ MORE: Stop taking children to playgrounds, playdates during coronavirus outbreak: experts

At the end of the press briefing, Morrison was asked how much of a toll the past week has taken on her.

“It absolutely can take an impact on me and even when we were talking about the children here earlier, I found that hard to read because I miss mine.”

“It’s hard,” she replied. “It will continue to be hard.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here. (edited)

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