PEI has announced that it will discontinue its Vax Pass service next week.
During a briefing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dennis King said the card, which is currently required to access certain services, will not be in use from Monday at 12:01 a.m.
That’s weeks before the program’s expected hiatus, according to the county COVID-19 transmission timeline.
King said the decision to cancel the pass sooner than planned was based on science.
“No one wants those mandates to be in place for much longer than they have to be,” he said.
“We’ve now had about two months or more with Omicron. So we have information here at PEI that we didn’t have in other phases of the epidemic.”
Dr. Heather Morrison, the county’s chief public health official, said the pass has been effective in reducing transmission, but the Omicron variant has led to cases even among vaccinated individuals.
However, Morrison said that people who aren’t immunized are still at greater risk of developing serious COVID-19 outcomes even if Omicron is milder, and he encouraged those who haven’t to get the shot.
“We are not declaring victory, but we are adjusting the way we live with this virus in a more sustainable way,” she said.
“Although resurgence is still possible, we should be optimistic. We have a high rate of immunity in our population, which reduces the risk of serious outcomes in general. We know what public health measures work, and we have treatments for those at higher risk Serious consequences.
Morrison said that if the county has to respond to future waves of COVID-19, it will do so using less restrictive measures. CPHO will continue to monitor case trends and adjust measures accordingly.
The province raised some isolation requirements
On the same day the pass is shut down, the county will also remove self-isolation requirements for unvaccinated travelers entering the county. They still have to get tested on entry and on the fourth day of their visit.
Isolation requirements for some close contacts will be lifted on Thursday.
It is no longer necessary to isolate close people from outside the home such as classmates and co-workers, although they should still take the test on the fourth day in the testing clinic, wear triple-layer masks when not at home, and work from home if possible. They should not wait until the fourth day for the test if they develop symptoms.
Household contacts should still be isolated regardless of vaccination status for 96 hours, and testing should be done on the fourth day or if symptoms appear.
Both types of close contacts cannot visit any high-risk settings for 10 days after exposure, although employees at these types of facilities can return to work provided they complete required isolation and follow appropriate COVID-19 protocols.
People who test positive still need to self-isolate.
Morrison said the county has to weigh the effectiveness of COVID-19 restrictions against the risks when it comes to easing them.
“Changes to our contact management … may actually lead to an increase in some cases,” she said. “But we’re trying to do that knowing that we really believe it’s important to have children in the classroom as much as possible, and that they continue to be involved in their activities.”
She said the recent anti-delegation demonstrations on Prince Edward Island did not affect the decisions of the chief of the prime minister’s office.
2 people in hospital
The head of the Public Health Office also announced that two people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and two other people admitted for other reasons had tested positive.
There have been 526 new cases since CPHO’s last COVID-19 update. Morrison said case numbers are high because testing clinics closed Monday for the island’s residents.
The county currently has 2,316 active cases. On average, 244 cases were confirmed per day over the past seven days.
Currently, there are outbreaks in two long-term care facilities.
Morrison said there are 18 early learning and childcare centers “affected” by COVID-19, with nine centers open, two closed and seven open with modified or reduced capacity.
The county also announced that children ages 12 to 17 are now eligible to receive their booster dose, six months after the second dose.
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