ST. JOHN’S, NL –
The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA) asks why schools in Harbor Breton are not closed as no source has been identified for three cases of COVID-19 in the south coast community.
The chief physician for health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, confirmed Friday that a third case announced this week is a health care worker in the city, as are the first two.
To reduce the risk, the long-term care and acute care areas of the local health center will be staffed separately.
“There is a lot of confusion in the church. There is great concern in this community, “NLTA President Dean Ingram told The Telegram Friday,” and we urge the government to be more transparent about school closings when the possibility of COVID-19 spreading in the community consists . ”
The move would be almost controversial as Ingram said he heard there were only a handful of students in class.
He said he heard from parents, teachers, and even students.
“I’m not an epidemiologist. I am not an infectious disease specialist. I’m a high school biology teacher. But my layperson understands that if you are not sure how far COVID is present in a community, how can you be sure that it is not present in the school community? “
However, according to Fitzgerald, there is so far no evidence that students or school staff are at risk.
“As of this writing, we have no evidence that transmission is occurring within schools,” she told reporters Friday during the regular COVID-19 briefing in St. John’s. “We have criteria for when we would close cohorts within the school and then close the school itself, even if there was a person who tested positive within that school, is not necessarily something we would do.”
Fitzgerald said the decision would depend on a number of issues and involve some judgment from the local health workers and health officer.
However, she admitted that the source of the small cluster in the community – the third such mini-cluster in the province since the beginning of fall – is still a mystery.
“As the investigation continues, we may never be able to uncover the origins of this cluster.”
Since no source was identified, she asked all members of the community on Friday to get tested as a precaution.
Health Minister Dr. John Haggie confirmed that rapid PCR tests are now being performed at Harbor Breton. Results will be available in half an hour but must be confirmed by the central laboratory in St. John’s.
Fitzgerald said she was pleased to learn that more than 500 people in the city have already been tested.
“That’s excellent. I’m really happy to hear that.”
And for a change, she said, she’s also happy about the great support for the community on social media and not about the often negative posts.
“For communities facing COVID, this is exactly what they need,” she said. “They need to know that they are all in it together and that their Newfoundlands and Labradorians are 100 percent behind them.”
Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter on health for The Telegram.