Health officials extend lockdown in part of northwestern New Brunswick for another week
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick is keeping part of the northwest of the province under lockdown for another seven days to combat a high number of COVID-19 cases.
New Brunswick's chief medical health officer says the Edmundston area will remain under lockdown for at least another week.
Dr. Jennifer Russell says community transmission is still occurring in the third week of a COVID-19 outbreak in the region and cases are still rising, particularly among young people.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Thursday other parts of the northwest, including Grand Falls, Saint-Leonard and Drummond, will move from the red to the orange pandemic-alert level at midnight tonight, under which restaurant dining rooms, spas and fitness centres can reopen.
Edmundston and the Upper Madawaska region will remain in lockdown while the Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions will remain in the Yellow level.
"I thank the people of the Edmundston region for the efforts they are making to slow the spread of this virus," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. "Their determination in the face of ongoing hardships deserves our admiration and our support."
For those affected by the change, it means they can expand their household bubble to include a "Steady 10" list of contacts. "Masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained," New Brunswick Public Health wrote in a news release. "Restaurant dining rooms may open, and people may dine out with their household and with members of their Steady 10. Spas and salons, fitness centres and entertainment centres may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan with additional public health measures. Faith venues may operate, but in-person services are limited to 50 participants or fewer. Recreational and sport organizations may operate but are limited to practices and skills and drills within a single team."
EIGHT NEW CASES CONFIRMED
Public Health reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
Four of the cases are in Zone 4 (the Edmundston region), two are in Zone 1 (the Moncton region) and there is one each in Zone 2 (the Saint John region) and Zone 6 (the Bathurst region.)
Four of the eight new cases reported Thursday are in the Edmundston region, where public health is assuming all new cases are a variant.
So far, 184 cases in New Brunswick have been confirmed as a variant, with 180 of them the variant first identified in the U.K.
Four are the variant first identified in South Africa with two of those cases in the Saint John region and the other two, in the Fredericton region.
Of the 184 people diagnosed with a type of COVID-19 variant, 135 have recovered while 45 are still active.
"As of right now, the dominant variant here is the U.K., and in the U.K., when it did take over, it took about ten weeks, three months-ish, to take over, so we do expect to see that and are seeing that now," Russell said.
Russell showed an image and says there are still cases they can't trace back to one of the clusters -- a sign of possible community spread.
Thursday's total raises the number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began to 1,760.
Since Wednesday, 11 people have recovered so there are now 140 active cases in the province. Of those, 104 are in Zone 4.
Eighteen people are in hospital, including 12 in an intensive care unit. There have been 33 deaths in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.
On Wednesday, New Brunswick Public Health conducted 1,296 COVID-19 tests.
Public Health has identified potential public exposures to the virus at the following locations in Edmundston:
- Walmart, 805 Victoria St.
Saturday, April 10, between noon and 1 p.m.
- Staples, 11 Centre Madawaska Blvd.
- Saturday, April 10, between 11 a.m. and noon.
TESTING AVAILABLE FOR ASYMPTOMATIC PEOPLE
Russell also reminded New Brunswickers that Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing for people who have been in a public exposure area, even it they are not experiencing any symptoms. You can request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 to get an appointment at the nearest screening centre.
People experiencing one or more symptom are also encouraged to get tested.
"If you feel that you have a spring cold or mild flu, what you are more likely to be experiencing is one of the variants of COVID-19," Russell said. "It is very important that New Brunswickers who have one or more symptoms or who have been in an area of potential exposure continue to seek testing, even those who have been vaccinated."
REMINDER OF LOCKDOWN
A section of Zone 4, including Edmundston and the upper Madawaska region, is in lockdown as per the province’s mandatory order and will remain that way for one more week, Russell said. A detailed list of lockdown restrictions, including what can remain open and what must close, is available online.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard reminded people that no travel is permitted in and out of the lockdown area, or within the lockdown area, except when necessary, such as for vaccinations, medical appointments, work or to purchase essential goods.
The province is also discouraging travel in or out of areas in the Red or Orange levels.
Russell said Thursday that more than 150,000 New Brunswickers have been vaccinated, which amounts to about 25 per cent of the population that can be vaccinated against COVID-19.
With files from The Canadian Press.