N.B. reports 57 cases of COVID-19; requires students be vaccinated for intramurals, extracurriculars
New Brunswick Public Health is reporting 57 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Forty-one – or 72 per cent – of these new cases are among people who are not fully vaccinated, which means they either have one dose or none.
The province also announced new measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools, including requiring all eligible students to get vaccinated if they wanted to participate in indoor or outdoor intramurals or extracurricular activities.
Public health said in a news release that there are 17 people hospitalized due to the virus, with 10 in an intensive-care unit.
There have been 23 recoveries since Thursday and the number of active cases rises to 370.
"Today, we are seeing 28 per cent of the new cases in fully vaccinated people," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. "These breakthrough cases are expected while the virus continues to circulate, although those vaccinated are far less likely to be seriously ill or hospitalized. However, the circumstances with this virus have changed and that is why we must change with it. Public Health is strongly recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public spaces. And if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, do not assume they are fall allergies; get tested."
EPIDEMIOLOGIST PREDICTED RISE IN COVID-19 IN N.B.
Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist in New Brunswick, says everything the province is seeing now was predictable and inevitable.
"When I was asked about this last month, specifically about New Brunswick, what I had to say was, 'You're making a big mistake when you take off masks and you see unfettered travel because Delta is coming,'" said Furness.
New Brunswick went Green at the end of July, which meant an end to the mandatory order and removal of all COVID-19 restrictions.
However, this week, Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health said the province is facing a "grave threat" that could see a hundred cases a day, every day.
Furness says that's only the top of the iceberg.
"When you get to a hundred cases a day, you have to imagine maybe you're having 400 cases a day and you're only noticing a hundred, and the other 300 aren't going to get sick in a way that will tax your health-care system," said Furness. "They're going to pass it on to those who will."
BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES
Here is a breakdown of the new cases.
There are 15 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region):
- a person 19 and under;
- two people in their 20s;
- two people in their 30s;
- two people in their 40s;
- two people in their 50s;
- a person in their 60s;
- a person in their 70s; and
- four people 90 and over.
Eight of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and seven are under investigation.
There are three new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region):
- two people in their 30s; and
- a person in their 40s.
Two cases are under investigation and one is a contact of a previously confirmed case.
There are 16 new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region):
- eight people 19 and under;
- two people in their 20s;
- two people in their 30s;
- two people in their 50s;
- a person in their 60s; and
- a person in their 70s.
Seven of these cases are under investigation and the other nine are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
There are nine new cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region):
- three people 19 and under;
- two people in their 30s;
- a person in their 40s;
- two people in their 50s; and
- a person in their 60s.
Four of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and the other five are under investigation.
There are 14 new cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region):
- seven people 19 and under;
- four people in their 20s;
- two people in their 30s; and
- a person in their 50s.
Ten of the cases are under investigation and four are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Additional information is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
HEALTHY AND SAFE SCHOOLS GUIDELINES UPDATED
"Since the beginning of this school year, 20 schools across health zones 1, 3, 4 and 5 have been affected by about 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19," public health said in a news release. "By comparison, the 2020-21 school year had about 100 cases across 50 schools, in every health zone."
Because of the increased rate of infection this year, the New Brunswick is updating its Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines to better protect students in kindergarten to Grade 12.
On Monday, the following measures will come into effect:
- Using classroom groupings (or bubbles) to the greatest extent possible. Class sizes will not be changed.
- Only classroom bubble-friendly field trips will be permitted for students in kindergarten to Grade 8.
- Schools will look for ways to encourage greater physical distancing between groupings, such as adjusting lunch or recess schedules.
- Physical education classes will be taught outdoors, weather permitting. If taught indoors, students and staff must wear masks.
- Assemblies will no longer be permitted.
The province also says that effective Wednesday, all students who are eligible to be vaccinated (those born in 2009 and earlier who do not have a medical exemption) must be vaccinated to be eligible to participate in indoor or outdoor extracurricular and intramural activities.
"To reduce the risk of transmission on buses, and allow for greater physical distancing, families are asked to drive their children to school if they are able," public health said in a news release. "Community use of schools remains restricted to youth activities. Students 12 and over must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption to participate."
The province says it will review these guidelines in the next few weeks.
"The growing number of cases of COVID-19 in communities is having a significant impact on public school operations," said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. "We have a duty to protect our students, especially those under 12 who are not yet eligible to receive protection through COVID-19 vaccines."
Cardy said the province can only do so much, and called on parents to do their part.
"We will need the help of families, communities and businesses to help protect our school communities," he said.
INCREASE IN VACCINATION APPOINTMENTS
New Brunswick Public Health said Friday there has been an increase in vaccination appointment bookings at pharmacies and regional health authority clinics across the province.
"Demand for vaccinations has picked up over the last few days and I am greatly encouraged by this," said Russell. "(Thursday), we scheduled 1,929 vaccination appointments at regional health authority clinics, in addition to 1,700 bookings the day before. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the recent average was 600 bookings per day. We are also seeing a major uptick at pharmacies and walk-in clinics. On Thursday, 600 additional vaccines had to be delivered to a clinic in the Moncton area."
New Brunswick announced Wednesday that effective Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 11:59 p.m., people will be required to show proof of full vaccination when accessing certain events, services and businesses.
Information on the updated regulations is available online.
Public Health reported Friday that 77.5 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 86.1 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.
"All eligible New Brunswickers can book their second-dose appointments for a date that is at least 28 days after their first dose," public health said in a news release. "Those attending a vaccination clinic are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving their second dose, a copy of the record of immunization provided after receiving their first dose."
There is a list of upcoming mobile and walk-in clinics available online.
CONFIRMED CASES IN SCHOOLS
Public health said Friday that positive cases have been confirmed in schools in zones 1 (Moncton region), 3 (Fredericton region) and 5 (Campbellton region).
"The respective school communities have been notified," public health said in a news release. "If you or a family member have been in close contact with a case, you will be notified by Public Health for contact tracing. This notification may be communicated by the school. If you do not hear directly from Public Health, you have not been identified as a close contact."
According to New Brunswick’s Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines, schools with cases will close or move to online learning for at least one calendar day to support contact tracing, risk assessments and operational responses.
Here's a breakdown of the cases at schools:
- Zone 1 (Moncton region) – A new case of COVID-19 was confirmed at West Riverview Elementary School.
- Zone 3 (Fredericton region) – New cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at Andover Elementary School, Perth-Andover Middle School, and Southern Victoria High School, all located in Perth-Andover.
- Zone 5 (Campbellton region) – A new case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Sugarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton.
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