Prince Edward Island's chief health officer is urging cottage owners from outside the province to think twice before heading to the Island for their summer vacation — at least until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
Dr. Heather Morrison said Tuesday anyone coming to P.E.I. must isolate themselves from others for two weeks, which means they would require support from the community to get food and other provisions.
"Unless your primary residence is on Prince Edward Island, you should consider delaying coming to your cottage until at least the end of May or until the COVID situation changes," Morrison told a news conference.
Morrison issued the plea as other provinces in the Atlantic region reported a growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In P.E.I., health officials recorded three new confirmed cases, which brought the Island's total to 21.
All three cases are people who had recently travelled abroad. The province has yet to record any cases caused by transmission within the community, Morrison said.
"I know this is a difficult time for everyone, and I recognize that individuals are looking for ways to brighten spirits, connect and help each other," she said.
"This is a time when I worry we may start to get tired of staying at home and tired of being physically distant with each other. But ... (this is) the best thing we can do right now to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our whole Island."
Despite repeated warnings about the highly contagious virus, Morrison said she has been receiving reports of plenty of vehicle traffic across the province.
She also confirmed that police in Summerside, P.E.I., issued a $1,000 fine Tuesday morning to an individual who had failed to comply with orders to self-isolate. She said the fine — a first for the Island — was delivered after warnings had been issued.
Summerside police said the 27-year-old local man failed to self-isolate after travelling to New Brunswick.
In Nova Scotia, 20 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the province's total to 147 confirmed cases. Four individuals were in hospital and 10 others have recovered.
Health officials said most cases are connected to travel or a known case, with just one coming from transmission within the community.
As well, they said four staff members and two residents of long-term care facilities have tested positive.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's top public health officer, said long-term care is a particular concern when it comes to transmission of the virus, referencing deadly outbreaks in Ontario and British Columbia.
"People who live in communities come in and work in these facilities, the residents need care," Strang said. "It's concerning, but I think we've done everything we could do to limit the possibility of introduction and we have robust plans of responding."
In Newfoundland and Labrador, where Atlantic Canada's first COVID-related death was reported Monday, health officials reported four new cases, bringing the province's total to 152.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, said 11 people have been hospitalized and two were in intensive care.
Premier Dwight Ball said the low number of new cases was no reason to become complacent.
"Let me be clear, we are still in a public health state of emergency," he said.
In New Brunswick, two new cases were added to a list that reached 70 confirmed cases on Tuesday.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said New Brunswick has so far recorded three cases of community transmission.
"The measures that have been recommended will only be effective so long as we all do them, constantly and consistently," Russell told a news conference.
"We are only now beginning to see the impact of the actions that have been taken over the last three weeks."
— With files from Keith Doucette in Halifax, Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John's, N.L., and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press