There have been a couple of cases of COVID-19 announced on the north shore of Quebec in the last few days, with at least two believed to be in Fermont, just across the border from Labrador City and Wabush.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron told SaltWire Network that he and his counterpart in Labrador City have been in contact with public-health officials since they heard about the cases, and the situation is being monitored.
“They’re monitoring it,” Barron said. “The two cases, through contact tracing it’s been identified where it came from, which shows that the system is working. It’s only when we have community spread that we have to worry. That hasn’t happened, so we’ll see.”
An emailed response from the province's Department of Health and Community Services said the Chief Medical Officer of Health has been in contact with Quebec Public Health officials and they are aware of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Caniapiscau region of Quebec, which includes Fermont.
“Any close contacts of the two confirmed cases have been notified, and are required to self-isolate for 14 days,” the email read. “Public Health in this province has not been made aware of other cases on the Quebec Lower North Shore.”
The border between Quebec and Labrador has been partially open since June under a Special Measures Order from Public Health.
Residents from the three communities are allowed to go over the border, providing they meet all the requirements. Anyone wishing to cross would require identification with an address from one of the towns, and not leave the town boundaries. If they have traveled outside the region in the last 14 days they are not allowed to cross. According to the government, those restrictions remain in place.
As long as people answer the questions honestly, Barron said, it should keep the communities in Labrador safe.
There have been no cases of COVID-19 in Labrador West, with these being the closest.
Barron said as far as he knows there is no immediate plan to change the border crossing and he understands it would be a big issue if the border was closed again.
“They rely on us for stuff and we rely on them,” he said. “There’s a lot of ties there. I wouldn’t want it shut down, but if community spread happens, borders may have to be looked at again.”
Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said he has also been in contact with public-health officials and other provincial representatives about the issue and is staying on top of the concerns.
He reiterated Barron’s comments about the restrictions on the border keeping the communities safe and said community members don’t need to be concerned right now.
“They’re in contact with Quebec health authorities and as they get more information decisions on the border will be made accordingly. It’s being looked at and reviewed.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the response of the Department of Health and Community Services.