N.L. announces 32 new COVID-19 cases; woman arrested for disobeying isolation order

TORONTO —
More than 30 new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Newfoundland and Labrador, with many of them believed to be connected to the same funeral home.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced the 32 new presumptive positives Wednesday.

The 32 new cases bring the total number of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador to 67.

At least 44 of those cases involve people who spent time at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s, Fitzgerald said, adding that the province is ordering everyone who was at the funeral home between March 15 and March 17 to stay home until April 1 “for everyone’s health and safety.”

All but one of the 32 cases announced Wednesday come from the province’s Eastern health region, which includes St. John’s. The other one is the first to come out of the Western health Region – meaning there have now been confirmed or presumptive cases in all four health regions of the province.

There have been no hospitalizations related to the virus in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fitzgerald said all 67 people who tested positive are self-isolating in their homes. Their ages range from 8 to 78.

The province is focusing on isolating and testing those who have come into close contact with known COVID-19 patients.

“We are casting our net wide in order to ensure that we are catching … as many cases as we can,” Fitzgerald said.

There have been 1,336 tests carried out in Newfoundland and Labrador as of Wednesday, 269 of which have come back negative.

‘NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY’

Fitzgerald said there are no signs that the cluster of cases linked to the funeral home involved anyone violating public health orders.

However, in a separate matter, one person has been arrested in the province for doing just that.

According to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, a woman was arrested Tuesday in Corner Brook for failing to comply with self-isolation rules.

Const. James Cadigan told CTV News Channel that the woman was spotted in a public place, having recently arrived from outside the province. Cadigan said police first informed her that Newfoudland and Labrador requires anyone who has been outside the province to stay at home for 14 days, but officers were “met with non-compliance” and took the woman into custody.

“If you’re going to put our community at risk, we’re going to take action,” he said.

It is not clear if the woman had been tested for COVID-19. She faces a maximum fine of $5,000 if convicted.

Premier Dwight Ball addressed cases of self-isolation requirements being ignored at a news conference Wednesday, calling it “infuriating” that people would choose to gather in public when they are under orders to stay at home.

“Some of you are just simply not taking this seriously,” he said.

“Simply staying home should not be something that you find difficult to do.”

Ball said the province is looking at “the strictest measures” it can put in place to protect its residents from the novel coronavirus, and has already decided to suspend or revoke the driver’s licence of anyone caught disobeying self-isolation measures.

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