ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A woman who was recently on a cruise ship has become Newfoundland and Labrador's first COVID-19 patient, the province's top public health doctor announced on Saturday.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the woman's case is presumptive until results of local tests can be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
"Public health has notified the patient and she is currently self-isolating," Fitzgerald told reporters in St. John's, N.L. She said she wouldn't release further details about the woman's whereabouts or her recent travels due to privacy concerns.
Fitzgerald added that they've begun "contact tracing" — getting in touch with anyone who had recently been in close contact with the patient.
She said public health officials were prepared for this development and have plans in place to respond to any future spread of the virus.
Fitzgerald also echoed the advice of her federal counterparts: don't travel abroad unless absolutely necessary, avoid large social gatherings and practice good hygiene.
She said recent travellers who develop symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever or difficulty breathing should call 8-1-1, but all other recent travellers should self-isolate for 14 days just in case.
And she added that the province is not currently considering shuttering schools as a result of the pandemic, as provinces including Ontario and Quebec have done, citing the low number of cases in Newfoundland and Labrador.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2020.
The Canadian Press