'Better to do it now, than do it later': Maintain restrictions now in order to enjoy Christmas, say epidemiologists
New Brunswick doesn't have 90 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, and until that happens, public health measures should remain, advise some epidemiologists.
Zahid Butt, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Public Health Sciences, says a balance of encouraging more vaccination and restrictions is necessary right now.
Especially if the province wants to experience a more normal holiday season.
"If you are able to do these circuit breaker lockdowns now, you will then be able to enjoy the holiday season, basically because that's just around the corner," he said. "So, it's better to do it now, than do it later."
The province announced 22 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest daily case count since Sept. 9. It was around that time when N.B. started to see a drastic rise in case count -- and hospitalizations – with a high of 140 daily cases on Oct. 2.
"Just being vaccinated or just public health restrictions alone won't work – it should be a combination of both," Butt said.
Epidemiologist Kevin Wilson says past outbreaks show it takes at least a month to get them under control. And now would be the time to do the work – in order to ensure people can gather for the holidays.
"Discovering that you have an epidemic, introducing restrictions, ramping up testing, isolating contacts, doing contact tracing, all of that public health work – that's weeks, it takes weeks – you can't just flick a switch and turn it off, otherwise we wouldn't be in a pandemic," he said. "If you really want to make sure the holidays are as restriction-free as we can manage, then that needs to be a bit of a heavy push up front."
TESTING IS FOR EVERYONE: MONCTON COUNCILLOR
Paul Richard says there are times he still gasps for his next breath. The Moncton city councillor tested positive for COVID-19 in late September – and has been dealing with lingering symptoms ever since.
"I'll describe my symptoms as mild, because I was double-vaxxed," he said. "I'm pretty sure that if I wouldn't have been vaccinated that I would, best-case scenario, I would be on a ventilator. Worst case, well we won't think about that."
He says since he's shared his story, people have been sending him messages of support.
Dozens have revealed they've gotten tested because of Richard's experience – and one person had COVID-19.
He understands there are differing views on the vaccine -- but says testing is for everyone – and hopes more people will consider getting tested when they have symptoms.
"We don't know where this variant is, it can be anywhere in the province," he said. "If you're feeling the symptoms, please get tested."