Newfoundland and Labrador expects to be way ahead of schedule on vaccinations this summer, but there won’t be a corresponding rush to open up the province any sooner.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Wednesday there are too many variables at play to make any predictions about what may happen a couple of months down the road.
“If we find that cases plummet and continue to do so with one vaccine, and as bigger provinces start to reopen we don’t see a resurgence in cases, that bodes very well,” Fitzgerald told reporters during the weekly Public Health briefing. “But I think it’s hard to predict that at this point.”
“It’s very important that we get our vaccination rates up, and having 80 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, I think, is really a requirement for that free movement and the larger groups.”
“All indications are that the third wave is subsiding, and this reduces the risk for everyone. And we certainly see the impact of this with only three travel-related cases in the last week.” — Dr. Janice Fitzgerald
Case counts have dropped dramatically across the country over the past month. After several provinces were hit hard by a third wave of COVID-19, the national case count has dropped from about 7,000 daily a month ago to 1,000 today.
Fitzgerald says that may not all be due to the rollout of vaccines.
“It’s hard to tease out what’s making the difference right now. Is it the vaccines, or is it that a lot of the provinces that were having high case counts brought in some very strict public-health measures that brought the case counts down as well?” she said.
But she admitted the signs are encouraging.
“All indications are that the third wave is subsiding, and this reduces the risk for everyone. And we certainly see the impact of this with only three travel-related cases in the last week,” she said. “This is one of the indicators that we’ve been watching closely as we move towards our target date of July 1 for reopening to non-essential travel.”