ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Public health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador authorities reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, as well as 37 recoveries from the disease.

The province has been in lockdown for 10 days as officials battle a COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John's region that has been linked to the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Monday's numbers are good news.

"We are beginning to see an encouraging trend with more recoveries than new cases, thereby reducing the number of active cases in the province," Fitzgerald told reporters. But she still advised caution: "We acted on this as quickly as possible and we're able to ... reduce the spread of this variant as much as possible, but I think we will still see cases, and we may see days when there are a few more cases than 14." The next week or two will be decisive, Fitzgerald said. "As I've said before, the variants are a game-changer," she said.

Until numbers began to spike two weeks ago, daily case numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador hadn't exceeded 10 since last spring. Officials said as of Monday, there are 407 active reported cases across the province. That represents an active infection rate of 78 per 100,000 people — slightly higher than Ontario's rate of 70 per 100,000 people. Five people are in hospital because of the virus.

Two of the new cases announced Monday are travel-related and involve people in western Newfoundland and in the region spanning Labrador and the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, she said. The remaining cases are in the eastern health region, which includes the St. John's area.

Officials say 108,834 people in the province, or slightly more than a fifth of the population, have now been tested for COVID-19.

Liberal Leader and Premier Andrew Furey, who began attending the regular public COVID-19 briefings when case numbers first began to spike two weeks ago, agreed that Monday's numbers were promising.

"The lockdown measures are doing what they should," he said. "Broad testing is working. Containment is working."

The outbreak has delayed a provincial election that was originally scheduled for Feb. 13 and is now being conducted by mail-in ballot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2021.

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