Three hospitalizations; 169 new cases of COVID-19 in PEI; changes to contact tracing

Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has announced that two more individuals are in hospital being treated for COVID-19 and 169 new cases of COVID-19 in PEI. 

“We know we cannot stop the spread of Omicron, but what we can do is slow down the spread by getting vaccinated and following public health guidance. The Omicron variant is a new variant that is challenging us to do things differently. As we manage through this wave of the pandemic, we will transition to living normally with COVID-19.” 

- Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison

These new cases are still under investigation and contact tracing is underway. 

There is now a total of three individuals in hospital being treated for COVID-19. Two individuals are between the ages of 60 and 79, and one is over the age of 80 years. There is no one in intensive care, at this time. 

There are currently 680 active cases of COVID-19 and there have been 1,191 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. In the last seven days there have been over 600 new cases of COVID-19, an average of 86 new cases per day.

As public health resources are strained under the pressure of this wave, there have been adjustments to contact tracing and the management of COVID-19 cases. Public health staff continue to call all positive cases to discuss the isolation requirements and answer questions. In turn, positive cases are asked to reach out to their close contacts and share written information by email explaining testing and isolation requirements. Close contacts are someone who has had face to face contact with a positive case, without masks (or either one without a mask), for at a cumulative 10-15 minutes. Public health nursing will focus on COVID-19 in high risk settings such as long-term care, congregate living environments and correctional facilities.

Positive cases are required to isolate for ten days. Cases are asked to identify their close contacts from 48 hours prior to symptoms developing or 48 hours before the positive test was taken. Typically, close contacts include family, friends, coworkers and others. 

Close contacts are required to be tested on days 0, 6 and 9. Those who are fully vaccinated are required to self-isolate for seven days from the date of last exposure. Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to self-isolate for ten days from the date of the last exposure. 

If there are questions about isolation or testing, call 1-800-958-6400. 

As previously announced, public exposure locations and no longer being identified and reported. This decision was based on the need to focus public health resources on contacting cases and case management.

“Given the amount of transmission and the significant infectious pressure in the province, all Island residents and visitors are urged to assume that every public venue and event is a potential exposure location,” said Dr. Morrison. “Assume the person next to you has COVID-19 and take proactive steps to protect ourselves by wearing a good quality, three-layer mask properly, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands often and staying home when feeling unwell.”

Fortunately, the majority of people with COVID-19 in PEI have mild to moderate symptoms. The majority of people with Omicron have symptoms. Common symptoms include cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever, chills, and general weakness. 

In workplaces that provide essential services that are experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19, a “Test to Stay” policy will allow essential workers who are close contacts and asymptomatic to undergo regular testing and continue working.  When these individuals are not at work, they are to be in isolation. This policy is not without risk and will be used very sparingly, based on approval from the Chief Public Health Office. 

Island residents and visitors are urged to keep New Year’s celebrations as small as possible. 

In order to preserve the limited capacity of Health PEI testing clinics, until further notice, testing will continue to be limited to the following:

  • Symptomatic individuals
  • Close contacts identified by Public Health
  • Confirmatory tests for individuals who test preliminary positive at a point-of-entry
  • Confirmatory tests for individuals who test preliminary positive with a rapid antigen test 

Individuals who do not have symptoms do not require testing. Those who are presenting for testing related to travel (e.g., day 4 tests) will be provided with at home rapid antigen tests, two tests to be taken 48 hours apart.

As always, all Islanders are urged to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19, even after a previous negative test, and to self-isolate until the results come back. Islanders are also encouraged to download the free national COVID Alert app, which will let them know if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, December 29, 95.4 per cent of eligible Island residents age 12 years and over have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 92.2 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses. 41.9 per cent of children age 5-11 years have received their first dose. Over 18,000 people have received their third dose of COVID-19 booster. 

Individuals should book their booster appointment for six months after their last dose. Getting a booster is an important layer or protection against serious illness related to the Omicron variant.

Anyone age 12 and over can receive their COVID-19 vaccination at one of the Health PEI clinics or at one of the 28 partner pharmacies across the province. Island children between the ages of five and 11 years can now receive their COVID-19 vaccination at Health PEI clinics.  

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.

For the latest information about Prince Edward Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Prince Edward Island. 

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.
Everyone is encouraged to follow routine prevention measures:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a properly fitted, three-layer mask in indoor public places and in outdoor public places where physical distancing from others cannot be maintained
  • Keep your circle of contacts small
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Physical distance - stay two meters (6 feet) apart
  • Don’t share items like drinking glasses and water bottles
  • Frequently clean surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Visit a drop-in-clinic to be tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Media Contacts:
Samantha Hughes
Health and Wellness
(902) 316-1323

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121