N.B. reports 21 new cases of COVID-19; declares outbreak at adult-residential facility in Edmundston
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and reported an outbreak at Manoir Belle Vue, an adult residential facility in Edmundston.
Public health declared the outbreak after one positive test at the special care home.
"Residents were tested on Tuesday," the province said in a news release. "Members of the Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Team are on site providing support for residents and the facility’s clinical care team."
There are also new confirmed cases in three schools. There is one case at Edith Cavell School in Moncton, one new case at Ecole Saint-Jacques in Saint-Jacques, and one case at Riverview High School in Riverview, according to a post on the school's website.
Students and staff are still learning and teaching from home at Edith Cavell School. At Ecole Saint-Jacques, all students and staff must self-isolate because of the high number of COVID-19 cases in Zone 4. Public health will do contact tracing and testing and the school will be closed for three days. The child-care centre located in the school will also be closed during that time.
"Regarding all cases identified at schools, if you or a family member have been in close contact with a case, you will be notified by Public Health for contact tracing," the province said in a news release. "If you do not hear directly from Public Health, you have not been identified as a close contact."
Here's a breakdown of the new cases by zone:
- six cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region);
- two cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region);
- one case in Zone 3 (Fredericton region);
- 11 cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region); and,
- one case in Zone 5 (Campbellton region).
All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.
This increases the number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick to 1,025 since the pandemic began. Of those, 694 have recovered and there have been 13 deaths. There are 317 active cases, including two people who are in hospital, with one in intensive care.
As of Wednesday, Public Health has conducted 177,680 tests.
The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick's seven health zones:
- Zone 1 – Moncton region: 249 total confirmed cases (73 active cases)
- Zone 2 – Saint John region: 205 total (56 active cases)
- Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 217 total (49 active cases)
- Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 147 total (103 active cases)
- Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 178 total (27 active cases)
- Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 23 total (9 active cases)
- Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 6 total (0 active cases)
AUSTIN SAYS PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS ARE CONFUSING
The People's Alliance party says the New Brunswick government's recent decisions to curb the spread of COVID-19 are confusing for the public.
Leader Kris Austin has been a member of the all-party COVID-19 cabinet committee for the last 10 months but says he's confused and frustrated by some of the government's actions.
"We have to have rules that make sense," Austin said in an interview Wednesday. "They have to be concise and they have to be clear and they have to be consistent. If we're changing rules on the fly it just creates confusion."
New Brunswick has been reporting more than 20 new infections every day since Jan. 13. Austin said the decision this week to move more than half the province into the "red" pandemic-alert level has closed churches and hair salons without evidence they are hot spots.
"My understanding was when you went to red, that was the lockdown," he said. "That was the final step. But now we're hearing red is the new version of orange and there's a lockdown that could be coming. People are just scratching their heads unsure of what it all means."
Premier Blaine Higgs said this week that the government would consider imposing a lockdown if current measures to control the spread of the virus aren't effective. The COVID cabinet committee meets Thursday morning to discuss whether more restrictions are needed and if so, what they would look like.
"A lockdown is an extreme measure," Austin said. "I supported it last spring because this whole thing was new. We were trying to grapple with the health-care system to ensure it was ready should COVID cases spike. I think it was justified back then. I'm not so sure it's justified at this time."
LIBERALS WANT FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS
Meanwhile, the Opposition Liberals are calling on the Higgs government to provide financial support for businesses impacted by the pandemic. Gilles LePage, critic for economic development and small business, says people are following advice to stay home and only go out for essentials, and that's affecting businesses.
"The province has the duty to step up and provide the financial aid necessary to keep these businesses afloat," LePage said in a statement. He said it's more critical than ever for the government to identify what businesses need help and to provide temporary financial aid.
With files from The Canadian Press.