HALIFAX -- Beginning May 31, any unvaccinated long-term care workers in New Brunswick will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test every other day if they are working in a facility where less than 50 per cent of the staff have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The mandatory COVID-19 testing was introduced due to low vaccination rates among the staff in some long-term care facilities.

“We have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable seniors in our province,” said Bruce Fitch, New Brunswick's social development minister. “We are committed to ensuring we provide a safe environment for both residents and workers in our long-term care facilities.”

Recent reports indicate that vaccination rates remain below 50 per cent for staff in 99 of the province's 563 long-term care facilities. Health officials say this means about 1,100 workers have not received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“This situation is unacceptable and does not align with our mandate to ensure the frail and vulnerable seniors in our care are in a safe environment,” Fitch said. “There are still outbreaks occurring in long-term care facilities, and this is putting the health of many seniors at risk. We have no choice but to impose additional measures to protect the residents living in these facilities.”

Public Health says test kits and training will be provided.