N.L. reports 44 new COVID cases as nurses brave brutal winter to test thousands

Newfoundland town shuts down amid COVID concerns as province stays out of bubble

Newfoundland and Labrador health officials are today reporting 44 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and another 21 presumptive positive cases.Officials say 42 of the confirmed cases and all of the presumptive cases are in the eastern region of the province, which includes the St. John’s area.The entire province is under lockdown measures as public health officials battle an outbreak in the capital region that first appeared early last week.
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Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says there are 338 reported active cases in the province and thousands of people are coming forward for testing.Much of that testing is being done at two outdoor sites in Mount Pearl, just outside St. John’s, which was the epicentre of the outbreak last week.

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Nurses and other health-care workers are braving howling winds, freezing rain and stinging snow to reach into cars with testing swabs in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

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Jerry Earle, a union president representing many of the province’s health-care workers, said hundreds have signed up to don protective gear every day and work at the testing sites. Some of the workers have even come of out retirement to pitch in, he said in an interview Wednesday.Meanwhile, Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker has been organizing free meals from local restaurants for all of the workers, from nurses to the people who’ve signed on to direct traffic. Each day, a different restaurant is on deck to provide hot meals, and Aker said Wednesday that business owners are thrilled to be helping out.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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