N.B. reports 5 new cases of COVID-19; more cases confirmed at schools
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 93.
Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region (Zone 2) while two are in the Moncton region (Zone 1).
The three cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:
- two people under 19
- one person in their 30s
The two cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) both involve individuals in their 20s.
All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said she's concerned about a disturbing demographic trend.
"People under 30 who are contracting this illness in growing number and passing it on to others," Russell said. "It's natural to assume you have unlimited immortality, so we feel like we are immune to harm at those ages, but this pandemic is proving how wrong those beliefs are."
Russell said it's a similar situation to what Nova Scotia is experiencing.
Russell said that since the pandemic began, 29.4 per cent of confirmed cases were people younger than 30.
"Now, they make up more than half," she said. "They are not immune and they can suffer long-term damage."
To date, the number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 450 and 350 have recovered, leaving 93 active cases in the province.
Russell said she expects more cases since there is a record number of people self-isolating across the province.
Right now up to 1,000 people in New Brunswick are in self-isolation. Russell says many of them are under the age of 30.
"The risk of further confirmed cases is very high," she said. "There is also the risk that our hospitals will become overcrowded."
She encouraged New Brunswickers to go back to the basics and do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.
She also reminded people that just because they are wearing a mask, or maintaining a physical distance of two metres, doesn't mean that they don't have to take any other measures.
"You absolutely do," Russell said. "These measures are most effective when used in combination."
On Monday, New Brunswick health confirmed the seventh death from COVID-19 in the province involving a person in their 80s who died Monday in Zone 2 (Saint John region) as the result of underlying complications, including COVID-19.
No one is currently in hospital due to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, New Brunswick public health had conducted 117,588 tests for COVID-19.
The province has confirmed 107 new cases in the month of November, trailing only October's 143 new cases for most new cases in one month.
POSITIVE CASES AT SEVEN SCHOOLS, TWO CHILD-CARE CENTRES
As of Monday night, a total of seven schools had been impacted by positive cases and potential exposure in Zones 2 and 3.
There have also been two child-care centres impacted this week, Dominic Cardy, New Brunswick's minister of education and early childhood development, announced on Tuesday.
Some students from at least four of those schools will be learning from home for the time being.
“We do have a handful of classes at Hampton Middle School and Lakefield Elementary School in Zone 2, and Centreville School and Montgomery Street School in Zone 3, that will be learning from home over the next week or two,” said Cardy during Tuesday’s news update.
Despite that, Cardy says that students who are not instructed otherwise should continue to go to school.
"I know this is an incredibly stressful time, but we have not seen any evidence of student-to-student transmission at schools to this point. Unless you've heard from public health, students need to continue to go to school," said Cardy.
Cardy didn't rule out closing schools in the future, though.
"Let me also be extremely clear that if we see evidence of cases increasing, and if public health believes that the triggers that would require a move to a red phase have been met, then this government and myself as minister will not hesitate for a moment to make the necessary call to move our schools to online learning," Cardy said.
On Sunday, positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at Montgomery Street School in Fredericton and at Centreville School in Centreville.
Public health says the schools have notified the communities and that "no student-to-student transmission has been determined in any schools," the province said in a news release. "If you or a family member has been in close contact with these cases, you will be notified by Public Health for contact tracing. If you do not hear directly from Public Health, you have not been identified as a close contact."
New Brunswick public health identified two potential public exposures in the Moncton area on Tuesday.
- RD Maclean Co. Ltd., on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (200 St. George Street, Moncton).
- GoodLife Fitness, on Nov. 21 between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (555 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe).
People who have visited those locations during these times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
Should any COVID-19 symptoms develop, individuals are directed to self-isolate and take the self-assessment online or to call 811 to get tested.
Public health also issued potential exposure advisories for seven locations on Monday evening.
OUTBREAK AT REHAB CENTRE
Also on Monday, public health declared an outbreak at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton after an employee tested positive.
That employee is self-isolating while employees and patients who were in contact with the individual have been tested and affected individuals are also isolating.
"All visits to the centre and scheduled appointments are cancelled until further notice," public health said. "Affected patients and their families have been notified."
CASES THROUGHOUT NEW BRUNSWICK
The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:
- Zone 1 – Moncton region: 131 confirmed cases (34 active cases)
- Zone 2 – Saint John region: 82 confirmed cases (48 active cases)
- Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 83 confirmed cases (9 active cases)
- Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 8 confirmed cases
- Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 137 confirmed cases
- Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 5 confirmed cases (2 active cases)
- Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 4 confirmed cases
The province recently announced that residents can take an online self-assessment if they are experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
NO PLANS TO PULL OUT OF BUBBLE
Higgs says the province has no plans to pull out of what remains of the Atlantic Bubble, but did caution people about travel.
"We do not feel it necessary to take this step to remove New Brunswick from the Atlantic bubble at this time, however, we know how quickly things can change," said Higgs. "I am joining my fellow Atlantic premiers in cautioning against non-essential travel within the bubble, and even within our own province. Now is the time to stay local, shop local and take extra precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19."
Higgs also urged people to follow the public health guidelines and give their real name when asked to identify themselves for contact tracing.
"Generally, people are complying with mask requirements and physical distancing, however, more than 30 fines were issued across the province over the weekend for violations of mandatory order provisions under the Emergency Measures Act," said Higgs. "Inspectors issued dozens of compliance orders to businesses and they will be following up on those orders and conducting more inspections to ensure rules are being followed."
Higgs said people should stop looking for excuses to not wear a mask.
"When in doubt, put a mask on," he said. "I can appreciate if you're out in front of your house and this is on your property, then the public shouldn't be on that, that shouldn't be a problem. If you're walking down the the trail where you're meeting lots of people, then put a mask on."
Higgs also reminded business owners that they must have and follow an operational plan.
"If you are a business that is currently operating with no plan, WorkSafe New Brunswick will issue an immediate stop-work order," Higgs said.
VEHICLE TRAFFIC INFORMATION
New Brunswick's online dashboard includes information about vehicle traffic attempting to enter the New Brunswick border.
On Monday, 1,612 personal and 1,110 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province.
Of the vehicles attempting to cross the border, 17 were refused entry, for a refusal rate of 0.6 per cent.
An earlier news release from the province of New Brunswick said that there were six new cases. This story reflects new information provided by New Brunswick Public Health.