Influenza and RSV on the rise in PEI; mandatory isolation for COVID-19 ends
As previously advised, as of 11:59 PM on November 30, 2022, the mandatory isolation requirement for COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island will be replaced with strong recommendations to protect yourself, and particularly those who may be at high risk of severe outcomes, from any respiratory illness circulating in our communities.
The Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, confirmed as expected that cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are on the rise in Prince Edward Island. While COVID cases continue to occur at lower rates than earlier this year, precautions should be taken due to the risk of multiple respiratory viruses circulating.
“We still need Islanders to do their part by staying home when you are sick and wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces helps to reduce the spread of all respiratory illnesses such as influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 this respiratory season. Even though the health threat of COVID-19 on PEI has lessened over time with high vaccination rates, accessing treatments, and the evolution of less severe variants, it is important for people to continue to stay home when they are sick while other respiratory illnesses are in the community. This also includes masking in crowded indoor settings, up to date vaccinations, improving indoor air quality, and testing when appropriate.” - Dr. Heather Morrison.
There remains an ongoing risk of COVID-19 infection, and possible spikes in rates may still occur in the province. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (after onset of symptoms or positive test) are no longer legally required to isolate regardless of vaccination status. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory diseases like the flu and the common cold.
If you are feeling unwell, stay home and self-isolate to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. You should stay home until all of the following apply to you:
- your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea)
- you do not have a fever
- you do not develop any additional symptoms
If you must leave home, you should wear a mask and avoid visiting individuals at higher risk for severe illness (for example, seniors) and higher risk settings, such as a long-term care home.
Masks in high-risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care and community care homes, will remain in place to reduce transmission in vulnerable settings. Residents of long-term care and individuals needing hospital care are at higher risk from severe outcomes from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as influenza. Masking of staff and visitors helps to prevent transmission to those at highest risk of respiratory illness.
Clinic testing continues to be accessible throughout the province and it is important for individuals who are at risk of severe outcomes and are symptomatic to be tested at a Health PEI testing clinic for earlier diagnosis and access to antiviral treatment for COVID-19.
Rapid antigen tests are a valuable tool that can be used to assess and monitor for COVID-19 infection. If your first test is negative, repeat the test in 24-48 hours if you have ongoing symptoms. All Residents and Visitors of PEI are encouraged to access Rapid Antigen Tests as needed.
Test kits are available through a variety of locations.
- All eight Access PEI locations
- All Provincial Public Library locations
- All Provincial Visitor Information and Destination Centres (check website for dates/hours of operation)
It is highly recommended that anyone 12 years of age and older get vaccinated at a Health PEI vaccination clinic or at one of the many partner pharmacies across the province as it remains the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. First, second and booster doses are being offered at clinics and partner pharmacies.
Parents and guardians looking to book an appointment for their children aged 6 months to 5 years should call toll-free 1-844-975-3303 to make an appointment. Vaccinations for this age group will be offered at Health PEI COVID-19 Immunization Clinics across the province on dedicated dates and times to support the unique needs of children. For information on PEI’s COVID-19 vaccine for children and frequently asked questions, visit: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children.
Parents and guardians of unvaccinated children 6 months of age and older should make an appointment for their children to receive a first dose. In addition to any immediate illness, children are vulnerable to developing long COVID-19 and the long-term health impacts of post-viral illnesses are not yet known. Children 6 months of age and older can receive their COVID-19 vaccine at a Health PEI vaccination clinic.
For information on PEI’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including vaccine facts, immunization data and booking an appointment, visit: COVID-19 Vaccines.
For answers to commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit: Answers to Common COVID-19 Vaccine Questions.
The Chief Public Health Office continues to work closely with the federal government, provincial and territorial counterparts, government departments and Health PEI to monitor the pandemic situation and prepare for all COVID-19 related impacts to the province, including health, social and economic. The public health risk of COVID-19 is continually reassessed, and Islanders will be updated as new information becomes available.
Health and Wellness