The Department of Health has confirmed a fourth person, a man over the age of 70, has tested positive in relation to a small cluster of COVID-19 cases on the Burin Peninsula.
A woman in the same age category tested positive earlier this week.
The woman is a tenant at Blue Crest Cottages, a retirement complex in the town of Grand Bank. The new case is not a resident of the facility.
One of the four people in the community who tested positive is a rotational worker and is the likely source of the other infections.
There are now 10 active cases in the province, and according to the latest daily update from the Department of Health and Community Services, two of them are in hospital, one more than Wednesday.
On Thursday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said there is no evidence of community spread in Grand Bank, adding there is also no evidence yet of possible exposures in any public spaces.
But Fitzgerald appeared frustrated when asked whether area residents should avoid gatherings as a precaution.
“This is not normal times,” she said. “This is 2020. This is not 2019."
She said she’s worried some people in the province have become too complacent and said guidelines on social gatherings should be followed at all times, regardless of the number of cases.
Earlier on Thursday, Eastern Health confirmed in a virtual news conference that other tenants of Blue Crest Cottages were informed of the situation Tuesday evening. The female resident tested positive the following morning.
Eastern Health’s medical officer, Dr. David Allison, said tenants at Blue Crest have been advised to quarantine for 14 days, and arrangements are being made to ensure they get food and supplies. At least a dozen other contacts have traced, and that number is expected to rise.
Any essential workers such as home care providers are instructed to wear personal protective equipment if entering the cottages. All common spaces have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and their use has been suspended until further notice.
Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health in St. John’s