By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — Since COVID-19 was first detected in Canada in January 2020, life across the province and country has changed to a ‘new normal’. Lockdowns saw businesses shut their doors, people unable to visit friends and family, and schools moving to online classes to avoid spreading the virus.
Now, even though daily updates from the province are no longer a regular occurrence and outbreaks may not be as common as they were three years ago, many individuals still choose to wear masks when out in public and proper handwashing is still encouraged.
As of January 19, the most recent data states that there have been 54,307 cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador since the beginning of the pandemic, and 297 deaths are also confirmed. As of November 30, 2021, 740,895 tests have been completed as well.
Most recently in Port aux Basques, an outbreak occurred at Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre, a stark reminder that COVID is still a real concern. In response to email inquiries, Western Health stated that:
“There was a COVID outbreak at LeGrow Health Centre which impacted long term residents. This outbreak is expected to end today (Thursday, Jan. 19) as there have been no additional cases in 10 days. There is an outbreak team that closely monitors each situation and implements measures to help prevent further spread. There was no spread outside the long-term care unit at LeGrow.
All outbreak and visitor restrictions are regularly updated on the Western Health website. There is a link on the main page of the website, which lists the sites that have outbreaks. When there are visitor restrictions, next of kin for all patients/residents on the specific unit impacted are notified.
“Visitor restrictions are put in place when there is an active outbreak on a specific unit in any of the health facilities. The province has guidelines by Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) that staff follow to determine if there is an outbreak on a unit.
The number of COVID positive individuals in hospital is monitored by IPAC staff and reported to the Province. Currently there are 5 individuals with COVID in hospital throughout the region. This number fluctuates daily depending on admissions.”
Even though the regular updates from the province are a thing of the past, the Department of Health and Community Services still keeps a close eye on COVID in the province, as outlined in a department response to email inquiries last week.
“In Newfoundland and Labrador in 2022, there were 276 deaths due to COVID. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 295 deaths due to COVID. We now report new cases and not active cases. The number of active cases was estimated based on the number of expected recoveries (no longer infectious) within the time frame when we were performing widespread confirmatory testing. Throughout the first couple years of the pandemic, having an understanding of the number of active cases gave us an understanding of people in isolation, which was helpful to determine level of community transmission and volume of work for public health staff. Testing polices and testing volumes have since decreased, therefore the reporting of active cases is no longer reflective of the same measure it once was when more testing was occurring. Public Health continues to report new cases of COVID-19. For the most recent reporting period, December 18, 2022 to December 31, 2022, there were 199 new COVID-19 cases in the province and 39 new COVID-19 cases reported in Western Health. For detailed information on COVID-19 cases by day for this reporting period, please see the COVID-19 Dashboard.
Genomic sequencing is currently unavailable for cases associated with the outbreak at LeGrow Health Centre. There is a lag in identifying the sequence results. Furthermore, not all cases are sequenced.
Vaccinations are continuing for individuals age 6 months and older. Please visit our website for vaccination appointments in your area. Vaccines – Time For The Shot We continue to encourage everyone in the province to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The majority of the population of NL has received COVID-19 vaccinations and/or has obtained immunity through infection. Additionally, variants currently circulating are less severe than the ones circulating in the first year and a half of the pandemic. As a result, our population has established good immunity against severe COVID-19-related outcomes, putting us in an improved position compared to the first two years of the pandemic.”