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N.B. premier considers tightening Quebec border; province reports one new case of COVID-19
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick has one new confirmed case of COVID-19.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, announced the new case Tuesday afternoon during a news conference in Fredericton.
Russell said the woman is between the ages of 20 and 30. She lives in Zone 1, in southeastern New Brunswick, and was recently travelling.
This brings the total of confirmed cases in the province to 18.
Premier Blaine Higgs announced a one-time income benefit of $900 for workers or people who are self-employed and have lost their job because of the state of emergency. The benefit will be administered through the Red Cross and is meant to help bridge the gap between the loss of income and when people are able to access benefits through Service Canada.
"We must do everything we can to get money into the hands of those in need," Higgs said.
New Brunswickers who travelled outside province must self-isolate
The province also imposed a new guideline on Tuesday; anyone who has travelled anywhere outside of New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Higgs had stern words for people who have not obeyed the rules put in place when the province enacted a state of emergency last week.
"This shows incredibly poor judgment and disregard for your fellow citizens," Higgs said.
Russell said two of the 18 people infected have needed to be hospitalized. One person was in Zone 2 (southern New Brunswick) and was discharged after being in hospital for a short time.The other person is in Zone 3 (central New Brunswick) and their condition is being evaluated.
She said there have been no cases of community transmission, but New Brunswick has started to test for that at the 14 testing centres set up around the province in the last week. Community transmission occurs when "a case emerges with no clear link to a known source of infection," a government news release said.
Russell said the province must be prepared for this and that is why it has moved 59 people out of hospitals into nursing homes to increase the capacity at hospitals to deal with any increased spread of COVID-19.
"We are working to increase the pace of COVID-19 testing, to effectively identify those who may have the disease, those who have been in contact with suspected cases, and those who are most vulnerable to its effects," Russell said.
Russell again reminded people of the importance of washing hands, cleaning frequently touched services, proper rest and nutrition, self-isolating if necessary, and always ensuring that you maintain an appropriate level of physical distancing of two metres when out in public.
"This is a difficult time for all New Brunswickers, but bear this in mind," Russell said. "The power to slow the spread of COVID-19 rests with you. We can flatten the curve. Slowing the rate of transmision is what self-isolation is all about."
The province says it has ordered 80 more ventilators to add to the 160 that it already has in hospitals across the province.
Premier considers tightening border with Quebec
Higgs said he spoke with the prime minister and his fellow premiers on Monday night and one of the things they discussed was interprovincial borders.
"We need a national plan that addresses travel between provinces," Higgs said. "We are seeing new measures being put in place each day, and these measures can vary widely between provinces and territories. Enacting a national state of emergency is the best tool to ensure consistency across our country in the level of health care, safeguarding our supply chain, and mitigating the economic impact."
Higgs said the spike in COVID-19 cases in Quebec is concerning and said he's considering monitoring border crossings there. He said he doesn't want to do it just for show and wants to make sure that whatever measures are put in place will be effective in controlling the spread of the disease.
The premier also said he'd impose tougher restrictions at the border with the United States if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through with an idea to loosen COVID-19 restrictions south of the border.