N.B. puts Edmundston region in lockdown because of rapid increase of COVID-19 cases
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick's top doctor says the "time is now" for a lockdown in the Edmundston region.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the growth of cases in the Edmundston region (Zone 4) has reached a point where the strongest measures are needed. Two weeks ago, there were just seven cases in the region and now there are 129 active cases, including 19 new cases announced Friday.
"The growth of cases in this zone and the spread through several workplaces and long-term care homes has really reached a point where the strongest measures are needed," Russell said during a news conference on Friday in Fredericton. "The measures being announced today are stern but they are necessary."
New Brunswick's recent spike in cases traces back to gatherings over the holidays and increased travel in and out of the province.
"We had almost 3,000 more travellers around that period of time than we normally do," Russell said.
She said the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region, has 129 active reported infections. Because of the way the virus multiplies, that number could grow to 200 cases by next week and 400 before the end of the month, she said.
Russell said the change will go into effect at midnight on Saturday and last for a minimum of 14 days. The situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days, Russell said, adding that cabinet may extend the lockdown if required.
Under the lockdown, all K-12 schools must close and do virtual learning only, non-regulated health care providers must close, regulated healthcare can stay open with an updated operational plan, religious services only held virtually, and only essential businesses are allowed to stay open. Public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills, must also close.
Other lockdown guidelines stipulate that a single household bubble can extend care to children from another household bubble for 'informal daycare or online education support' says New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, but must be the same bubble for the entire lockdown period.
Evictions are not permitted under lockdown, says Shephard. Service NB locations will be closed, public transit and taxis are permitted.
Shephard said Friday during a news conference in Fredericton that all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region.
"Everyone should stay home as much as possible and only leave your home for essential reasons," Shephard says. "I know this lockdown will be difficult for residents of Zone 4 and this is not a decision we take lightly. This is a necessary action, so we can get the situation under control. We can only assume there are even more cases of COVID-19 in our communities that have not been confirmed, which is why we must behave as if the virus is all around us."
A detailed list of lockdown restrictions, including what can remain open and what must close, is available online.
New Brunswick reported 30 new cases on Friday, raising the number of active cases in the province to 331. There are five people in hospital, including three in intensive care.
Of the new cases, here is the breakdown by health zone:
- Zone 1 (Moncton region): eight new cases;
- Zone 2 (Saint John region): one new case;
- Zone 3 (Fredericton region): one new case;
- Zone 4 (Edmundston region): 19 new cases;
- Zone 7 (Miramichi region): one new case.
The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick's seven health zones:
- Zone 1 – Moncton region: 262 total confirmed cases (80 active cases)
- Zone 2 – Saint John region: 209 total (48 active cases)
- Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 221 total (41 active cases)
- Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 185 total (129 active cases)
- Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 180 total (23 active cases)
- Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 23 total (9 active cases)
- Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 7 total (1 active cases)
With files from The Canadian Press.