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P.E.I. imposes restrictions for travellers to help control spread of COVID-19

FREDERICTON — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Atlantic Canada, leading the country's smallest province to impose new restrictions in an effort to stem the spread.

FREDERICTON — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Atlantic Canada, leading the country's smallest province to impose new restrictions in an effort to stem the spread.

As of Saturday, anyone arriving on Prince Edward Island who has travelled within Canada is asked to self-isolate for 14 days — a step beyond the federal government's request to those who have travelled internationally.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said there were no new cases on the Island Saturday. There are still two positive cases, both travel-related.

She repeated her message to passengers who were onboard Air Canada Flight 7564 on March 11 from Toronto to Charlottetown to self-isolate until March 25. Those who develop any symptoms should call 811.

New screening measures are being put in place for the next 10 days at all entry points into the province, including the Charlottetown Airport, Confederation Bridge and Magdalene Island Ferry dock in Souris.

"I want clarify that we are not closing the airport, bridge or ferry. We are simply setting up screening at each of these entry points for all individuals arriving in P.E.I. — Islanders and visitors alike," Morrison said.

Morrison said the screening includes asking questions on travel and providing information on self-isolating.

Newfoundland and Labrador imposed similar restrictions on anyone entering that province earlier in the week, but announced a number of exemptions Saturday.

"They would include people like truck drivers that provide food services to our province, sometimes it could be crews on airplanes, and some of the oil and gas workers that work in Newfoundland and Labrador on our offshore rigs would be another example," said Premier Dwight Ball.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new presumptive cases — a woman who returned from international travel and a woman who returned from a cruise. That brings the provincial total to six presumptive cases.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said contact tracing for the two latest cases is ongoing.

Health Minister John Haggie stressed the need for social distancing, but said some people are not co-operating.

"Cab drivers in St. John's last night tell me that their Friday night was as busy as most Friday nights, only instead of going to pubs and clubs they were taking people to house parties," Haggie said. "This is not social distancing."

Ball said international military flights were continuing to land and depart from Happy Valley - Goose Bay, but military officials were isolating crews and ensuring proper cleaning procedures are followed.

"All the rules, policies and procedures have been developed by the base in Happy Valley - Goose Bay and Canada will, and should, continue its role in national security," Ball said. 

New Brunswick reported six new presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Four had been on a cruise ship, while the other two were close contacts to travel-related cases.

There are now seven confirmed cases and 10 presumptive cases for a provincial total of 17.

Residents of New Brunswick's Campobello Island must travel through part of the State of Maine to get to the New Brunswick mainland, and Premier Blaine Higgs said exceptions have been made to allow them to travel for essential services by going direct between Lubec and Calais, Maine.

"Additionally they will be able to travel from St. Stephen to Campobello Island, directly through the United States, as they have done," Higgs said.

Nova Scotia also reported six new cases of COVID-19 — all are travel-related.

The province has nine confirmed cases and 12 presumptive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 21.

The individuals affected range in age from late-teens to mid-70s.

"This is just the beginning for Nova Scotia and we all need to stay vigilant, practise good hygiene and social distancing, and self-isolate for 14 days if you have travelled outside Canada or are feeling unwell," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.  

As of Saturday, dentists in Nova Scotia can no longer practice dentistry in their offices unless it is for an emergency procedure.

This report by The Canadian Press was first reported March 21, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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