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N.L. reports 11 new cases of COVID-19 as province grapples with increased testing demand

Newfoundland and Labrador has 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, as the province grapples with increased testing demand brought on by the large spike in infections this week. 

Ten of Sunday’s cases are located in the Eastern Health region, while one is located in Western Health and is related to travel from within Canada. This case is not connected to the outbreak in the St. John’s metro area, a Department of Health spokesperson told CBC News.

There have been no new recoveries, meaning there are 296 active cases across the province, with 287 of those being in the Eastern Health region. 

In total, 91,045 people have now been tested. That’s an increase of 1,980 since Saturday’s update.

Also on Sunday, the health department is advising rotational workers about an identified COVID-19 outbreak at the Brucejack gold mine in British Columbia. The Department of Health said it was notified of the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada as people from this province work at the mine. 

Rotational workers with the mine who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 14 days must self-isolate, physically distance away from household members and complete the online self-assessment form or call 811 to arrange testing.

These workers must also complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of their test result.

Testing delays

The heavy increase in COVID-19 cases has created delays in testing for those looking to get one. 

During Saturday’s COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister John Haggie said he’s looking into where the “bottleneck” exists.

“I think one of the challenges is we spread the net very wide, in terms of asking people [to get tested] on a location basis for example, that’s generated quite the demand,” Haggie said.

“I know there are discussions about using alternate methods of testing, such as the rapid test kits and the outbreak equipment that we have available.”

Health Minister John Haggie says he’s looking into the delays some are facing for COVID-19 testing. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Haggie said there is a “triage system” in place based on public health guidelines that identifies priority individuals or those who are more likely to be a carrier of COVID-19.

“Those are fairly clear. If you’re someone who’s symptomatic and has been in contact with an individual who is positive, you’re not going to wait very long for your test,” he said. 

‘There’s a lot of worry’

Meanwhile, Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker said the mood in his community is anxious as eyes are still on Mount Pearl Senior High, a school that’s connected to many of the new cases this week. 

“There’s a lot of worry going around as uncertainty prevails through the community. But we’re very confident in the leadership we have in public health and as of last night I think we had swabs being done until 2:30 in the morning,” Aker said. 

The high school is also the site of a busy COVID-19 testing location as hundreds of vehicles line up in wait.

But the worry is for the aging population, said Aker, where many of the cases found in young people have been mild or asymptomatic. 

“I think restricting ourselves to our bubble is the only way we’re going to stop the transmission and ideally that reduces the number of hospitalizations and I hope coming out of this there are no deaths,” he said.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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