N.L. expands public health restrictions, reports 45 new COVID cases as cluster grows

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Newfoundland and Labrador reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on Friday – the highest daily number of new infections in the province since February 19, when the outbreak in St. John’s delayed a provincial election.

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A group that began in an individual care home in Bai Verte, NL, on the northeast coast, has spread to neighboring communities, said the acting chief medical officer of the province of Health.

Public health is telling residents not to travel to the affected area — which now includes Twillingate, NL and the surrounding area — unless it is absolutely necessary, Dr. Rosanne Sevier told reporters.

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“The fourth wave has unfortunately reached our shores,” Sevier said. “We’ve seen the face of COVID before, and we’ll do it again.”

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There were 109 active reported COVID-19 infections in the province – a number Health Minister John Hagie said on Friday “a threshold we had hoped we would not see again.”

Seventy of those active cases are linked to outbreaks in the Bai Verte region, and 21 of those infections are success cases — or infections affecting people who were fully vaccinated, Sevier said.

‘A different animal’

He said vaccination rates are low on the northeastern coast of the province, with only over 70 percent of eligible residents being fully immunized. In contrast, nearly 80 percent of all Newfoundlanders and Labradors had had two doses of the vaccine as of Tuesday, government data shows. With the Delta version fueling the outbreak, those numbers are not high enough, Sevier said.

“Delta is a different animal,” she said, adding that the vaccination rate needed to contain the outbreak is higher with the delta version because it is much more transmissible. “It’s been an eye opener across the country.”

There are active COVID-19 infections at four schools across the province, including 10 cases at an all-grad school near Summerford, NL, where in-person learning was suspended, officials said.

Public health measures restricting social gatherings and domestic bubbles will expand from the Bai Verte peninsula to Twillingate and surrounding communities at midnight on Friday.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 24, 2021.

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