Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Newfoundland and Labrador reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, when officials announced a few changes to and addressed issues with the province’s vaccine passports, two days before they became mandatory for some non-essential activities.

Seven of the new cases are in the Eastern Health region, one is in Central Health and one is in Western Health. All are contacts to previous cases, except one in Eastern Health, which is under investigation. Six of these new cases of Eastern health are under 20 years of age.

“Delta is not done with us yet,” said Dr.

She said four schools in the province currently have active cases of COVID-19 in Marystown, Musgravetown, Lethbridge and St. Louis. George’s. As Health Canada is considering approving vaccines for children ages five to 11, a vaccination plan for that age group is underway, she said. Haggie said it could involve a vaccination program at the school that is similar to the flu shot.

With 10 new recoveries from the virus since the last update, the province’s active case load is ticking down to 46. Five people are in hospital, two of them in critical care.

Fit issues, adjustments

Ahead of Friday’s implementation of vaccine passports, Haggie said his department and regional health authorities are aware that there are some people who are having a hard time getting their necessary documentation in order, especially people who were vaccinated outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The verification process with other jurisdictions is not without its problems,” he said. He said that there is currently a two-week waiting period for a solution for coordination outside the province, where staff at NL’s regional health authorities are working to resolve issues within the province.

The Newfoundland and Labrador vaccine passports will work in the same way as the Quebec version, seen here. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

Some people, including some new Canadians, report struggles to get the necessary documentation as the system relies on MCP cards. Haggie said additional staff are working on the MCP system.

In cases where people are not able to get the QR code needed for the passport to work before Friday, Haggie said it is enough to show paper immunization records that people received at the time of their vaccinations – in Newfoundland and Labrador or elsewhere.

“This record will make its place. It is a document that we have considered and will consider as appropriate evidence of vaccination through this program,” Haggie said. Companies and organizations that control passports must accept them, he said.

Identification must also be provided when passports appear, and Haggie said those requirements have been tweaked for anyone over the age of 19 after questions about the process. People can either show a piece of photo ID next to their vaccination certificate with the name and date of birth on it, or two pieces of non-photo ID, one of which should show the date of birth.

Rosann Seviour, the acting chief physician of health, offered condolences to the families and friends of those who had recently died of COVID-19. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador / YouTube)

Medical exceptions and mental health

Individuals with valid medical exemptions can get a QR code to participate in the passport program, and Haggie said his department is looking at expanding the criteria.

Haggie said only two reasons so far make the cut: a severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, or a diagnosed episode of myocarditis or pericaditis after receiving an mRNA vaccine.

These criteria were set by the provincial college of doctors and surgeons, Haggie said.

“We’ve heard of mental health issues of some severity, and our mental health team is actually reaching out to the college,” he said, adding that all discussions are “at a very tentative time at the moment.”

As it stands, a nurse or doctor must confirm that a person meets the criteria for medical exemption to be given.

Haggie and Seviour both took time on Wednesday to condole the latest deaths due to COVID-19.

Two more deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in the latest pandemic update on Monday, increasing the total number of deaths due to the virus to 15. Eight of them have occurred in the past month among outbreaks in parts of central Newfoundland .

On Tuesday, Eastern Health informed that it had been exposed to COVID-19 at the YMCA in Marystown, and asked everyone who had visited the center on Thursday between 16 and 17:30, Friday between 15:30 and 18:00 and Saturday between 1:30 and 16:30 to apply for tests.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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