FREDERICTON -- The Campbellton Regional Hospital has been effectively closed until further notice, as an outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread in the health care system of the northern New Brunswick community.

“As of last night, our Campbellton Regional Hospital is on lockdown. Nobody’s in, nobody’s out,” says Campbellton mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin.

Vitalité Health Network, which oversees the Campbellton Regional Hospital, says visits are now prohibited.

“The network has no choice but to take these measures immediately, given the evolution of the spread of COVID-19 in region five,” wrote Gilles Lanteigne, CEO of Vitalité Health Network in a statement.

The emergency room is closed and all-non emergency services are cancelled until further notice.

Campbellton's mayor says the outbreak in her community is only getting worse.

“This is serious, like I don’t see this under control whatsoever,” says Anglehart-Paulin.

Outbreak centred around health care workers

What began as a small COVID-19 outbreak in the region has grown to infect dozens, and its latest victims are mostly health care workers.

On Sunday, New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since June 6.

In a one week span between June 6 and June 13, 19 of 20 reported cases occurred in the Campbellton region.

The outbreak has mostly centred around the hospital and Manoir de la Vallée, a special care home in Atholville.

Three new cases were also reported on Saturday, involving two Campbellton Regional Hospital employees and one employee at Manoir de la Vallee.

Over the course of the outbreak, at least fourteen residents and six staff of Manoir de la Vallee have been infected.

Five staff at Campbellton Regional Hospital have tested positive in the last four days.

Second death reported

On Saturday, COVID-19 claimed its second victim in the province, a resident of the Manoir de la Vallée in Atholville who died at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of a death related to COVID-19 in our province,” said Premier Blaine Higgs in a statement issued Saturday. “I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the individual, as well as to all of those in the Campbellton-Restigouche region. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

The individual was between the ages of 80 and 89 and had underlying health issues.

“I ask all New Brunswick to join me in extending our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.

Both of New Brunswick's COVID-19 deaths were residents at Manoir de la Vallee in Atholville, N.B. Daniel Ouellette, 84, died on June 4 at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.

Mayor asking for more support

Anglehart-Paulin says she doesn’t feel much support has been provided to the staff walking into the Campbellton Regional Hospital every day.

“I’m really concerned that the PPE isn’t being provided to all staff. I know hairnets and little booties aren’t being provided,” says Anglehart-Paulin.

She says staff haven’t been allowed access to some personal protective equipment like N95 masks.

For its part, Vitalité says the wearing of PPE has been reinforced and disinfection procedures have increased.

Vitalité Health Network also says there is a new screening plan in place for employees and some patients.

Zone 5 remains in Orange phase

All areas of New Brunswick except Zone 5 are currently in the Yellow level of the COVID-19 recovery plan, aimed at the gradual reopening of businesses and activities while working to prevent a resurgence of transmission. Zone 5 remains at the Orange level of the recovery plan.

The following rules apply to Zone 5:

  • A two-household bubble is permitted.
  • Non-regulated health professionals and businesses such as acupuncturists and naturopaths cannot operate at this time.
  • Personal services businesses such as barbers, hair stylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists, and tattoo artists cannot operate at this time.