HALIFAX -- With transmission within private households the cause of 49 per cent of new cases in New Brunswick, the province is implementing tougher self-isolation rules to combat the spread of COVID-19.

"Beginning (Friday) on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m., when someone in a household tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in that household must also self-isolate (for 14 days), regardless of vaccination status," New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday afternoon during a news conference in Fredericton. "This measure will be in place throughout New Brunswick. Household members who are fully vaccinated however, and test negative with a PCR test, will be able to leave isolation. This is because we recognize that even though you've been vaccinated, you could still be a carrier."

In a news release from Public Health, officials said that household members who are fully vaccinated will be able to leave isolation with a Day 5 negative PCR test. A Day 10 PCR test must still be taken to confirm the negative result.

Higgs says health officials want to make sure that vaccinated people can have as normal a life as possible, so they are focusing on the areas that are of greatest concern.

New Brunswick's chief medical officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said there are 72 new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick.

"The cases remain high which continues to threaten our hospital system," Russell said. "Over the past week, 49 per cent of new COVID-19 cases reported in New Brunswick were the result of transmission within private households."

On Wednesday, New Brunswick reported 82 new cases, which was the highest number in a month.

"Today's number of new cases is 72, above a rolling seven-day average of 60 new cases per day," Russell said. "We have also seen a slight increase in the number of people admitted to hospital and to ICU wards, most of whom are unvaccinated."

Russell said Thursday that there are 28 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 14 of them are in intensive care.

"I must stress that it is the unvaccinated who are most likely to experience the most serious effects of COVID-19," Russell said. "The course of the pandemic is changing and we must change with it, adjusting our measures to precisely target the causes of COVID-19 spread."

The average age of a new COVID-19 patient during the past week is 33 years of age, which is much younger than New Brunswick was seeing earlier in the pandemic, Russell said.

On Thursday, health officials reported 71 recoveries from COVID-19.

"This is an important statistic because it demonstrates that the majority of people who contract the virus are recovering quickly without experiencing the worst effects of the disease," Russell said.

New Brunswick has 566 active cases across the province.

CIRCUIT BREAKER ENDING IN TWO ZONES

New Brunswick health officials also announced that as of Friday at 6 p.m., circuit breaker measures will end in Zone 1 (Moncton region) and Zone 7 (Miramichi region).

"It is incredibly important that we get the spread of this virus under control, especially with the holiday season approaching," Higgs said in a news release. "The circuit breaker measures worked well in most zones, but after six weeks they were not having the desired effect in Zone 1, the Moncton region, and we needed to change our approach. We have to find the balance between what we think of as back to normal and living with the reality of COVID-19."

N.B. ENFORCING UNPAID LEAVE

Higgs also stood firmly behind his government's decision to enforce unpaid leave for any provincial employees who has not received at least one dose of vaccine by end of day Friday.

"If you're not vaccinated tomorrow and you're put off on unpaid leave, you could be out for many weeks in order to go through the vaccination process and maybe, maybe not be able to come back at all," Higgs said.

Higgs says roughly 2,000 government employees have yet to receive their first dose of vaccine.