There are now six cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province’s top doctor confirmed on Saturday.
The two new cases are related to international travel, said Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, in a daily update on planning for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This is not unexpected,” she told reporters. “Our public health system is responding and operating as it should.”
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The first new case is a woman who recently returned from international travel and resides in the Eastern Health Region, and the second, a woman who recently returned from a cruise, and lives in the Central Health Region.
Both women are in self-isolation with mild symptoms, under the close watch of public health officials.
To date, 901 residents have been tested for COVID-19, 895 of whom have tested negative. More than 330 people are in self-isolation.
The other four cases are in the Labrador-Grenfell Health Region and Eastern Health Regions.
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The additional cases come one day after Newfoundland and Labrador announced its fourth presumptive case of the virus.
That prompted Premier Dwight Ball to order self-isolation for anyone entering the province, including travellers coming in from another Canadian province.
The order applies to all but essential service providers, such as oil and gas workers on the province’s offshore, critical maintenance and transport workers, and those delivering critical food and supplies.
“If this is a trucker that’s coming in with something that’s not an essential service for our province, self-isolate for 14 days,” said Ball on Saturday.
“We’re asking people to be responsible, to protect themselves and others.”
According to the government website, anyone found in breach of the self-isolation order could face fines or jail time, while a corporation found in contravention could be fined up to $50,000.
The provincial government confirmed Saturday that there are now four COVID-19 testing sites up and running, one for each of the regional health authorities. Testing for the virus is by appointment only, said Russell, adding that the province has enough resources to test “as many” people as it needs to in the weeks to come.
Earlier this week, the provincial government declared COVID-19 a “public health emergency,” allowing it to restrict certain freedoms to gather in public places.
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It shut down bars, theatres, gyms, cinemas and other communal spaces. Liquor and cannabis stores are closed, and restaurants are restricted to takeout only.
“If indeed we have to take more aggressive measures, we’re prepared to do that. But we’re not there yet,” said Ball.
The premier, who triggered a Liberal leadership election by announcing his resignation in February, said on Friday he would not have resigned if he knew the pandemic was coming. Ball said he’ll continue to serve as premier throughout the crisis, as long as the public will have him.
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