N.B. reports new case of COVID-19, makes changes to alert levels
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick reported a new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to seven.
The new case involves a person between the ages of 40 and 49 in the Fredericton region (zone 3), who is now self-isolating. The source of the case is under investigation.
“We don’t have to look far to see reminders that COVID-19 is still with us. This is a fact that we have understood since the pandemic has began, and taken into consideration as we have looked at how New Brunswick can best move forward, while keeping residents healthy and safe,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs during a news conference on Tuesday.
New Brunswick now has seven active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Tuesday's new case comes after four days of no new cases reported. The other active cases were identified last week, with two cases identified Thursday and four cases identified Wednesday, all involving temporary foreign workers who arrived in Moncton and began immediately self-isolating.
On Monday, 307 tests were done for COVID-19. As of Tuesday, a total of 55,379 tests had been conducted since the pandemic started. Out of those, 177 were positive, 168 have recovered, and two people have died.
There is currently no one hospitalized due to the virus in New Brunswick.
CHANGES TO ALERT LEVELS
While New Brunswick remains in the 'Yellow' level of recovery, public health have reviewed and made some changes to the alert levels in the province in preparation for a possible second wave.
“To reduce the impact of another possible wave of COVID-19, public health has reviewed all alert levels and associated measures in light of new scientific knowledge and of the effect of previous control numbers in Canada and other countries," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, during Tuesday's news conference.
Russell explained that three triggers will determine the alert levels going forward: epidemiology, public health’s capacity to test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19, and the healthcare system's capacity to cope with COVID-19 cases in hospitals.
If any of those three trigger areas become overwhelmed, Russell says the province will revert to previous alert levels.
YELLOW ALERT LEVEL
New Brunswick currently remains in the yellow alert level. That means the virus is considered controlled, but there remains a risk of community transmission.
Effective Monday, Aug. 17, public spaces will be allowed to reduce physical distancing to one metre in public spaces with seated venues, as long as a face mask is worn at all times.
Restaurants and bars will still be required to practice two metres of distancing.
ORANGE ALERT LEVEL
The orange alert level would apply when there is a significant risk that COVID-19 is no longer under control.
Under the orange level, public venues with seating will still be allowed to reduce physical distancing down to one metre with continuous use of a mask.
Other changes to the orange alert level include allowing unregulated health professionals to operate. However, close contact personal services such as barbers, hairstylists or spas would close.
The two-household bubble would remain under the orange level, but bubbles would now include formal and informal caregivers, as well as members of immediate family including parents, children, siblings and grandparents.
“We do not believe that we need to go back to a place where families are kept away from each other for long periods of time, or where our most vulnerable lose access to their caregivers at times of great need," said Russell.
RED ALERT LEVEL
The red alert level would apply when COVID-19 is no longer under control. Changes to the red alert level would allow a much broader range of businesses to continue to operate as long as they have appropriate public health measures in place.
Residents would need to return to a single-household bubble under the red level, but that would include formal and informal caregivers, as well as members of immediate family including parents, children, siblings and grandparents.
Russell also announced that daycares will remain open under any scenario using appropriate guidance.
“As always, the decision to remain open will be under the discretion of the daycare operator, but they, like many other sectors, now have a much better understanding of COVID-19 and the measures that can keep everyone safe and healthy," said Russell.
GREEN ALERT LEVEL
The green alert level would represent the end of the pandemic, and all directives specific to COVID-19 would be lifted.
"With the great summer weather, we have witnessed more gatherings and have noted that people aren't always following the rules. By doing this we are putting our fellow New Brunswickers at risk. We must, and we can, do better," said Higgs.
Higgs also gave an update on New Brunswick's economy during Tuesday's news conference.
"The situation will continue to get better as long as everyone does their part to keep New Brunswick in the yellow phase," said Higgs. "By working together, we can take on challenges that could come up if New Brunswick has to face a second phase of this virus, and ensure the continued economic and social well-being of our province."
Higgs says employment in New Brunswick is at 96.6 per cent of its pre-COVID February level, the most complete recovery of all Canadian provinces to date, according to the labour stats for July released by Stats Canada.
Higgs also pointed to a survey released Aug. 5 by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, in which 70 per cent of New Brunswick businesses said they are fully open, compared to 63 per cent across Canada.
Respondents of the CFIB survey also said that 40 per cent of New Brunswick businesses are operating with usual staffing levels, compared to just 35 per cent across Canada, and four per cent are operating at a higher staffing level than before the pandemic.
Higgs also said Tuesday that there aren't any current talks on reopening New Brunswick's borders beyond the Atlantic bubble.
"I will continue to talk to my Atlantic colleagues, but also most importantly with public health about the reasonableness of doing that, and the risk/reward as part of it," said Higgs.
VEHICLE TRAFFIC INFORMATION
New Brunswick's online dashboard includes information about vehicle traffic attempting to enter the New Brunswick border.
On Monday, 12,696 personal and 3,705 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province; 120 vehicles were refused for a refusal rate of 0.7 per cent.
On Sunday, 13,588 personal and 1,645 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province; 95 vehicles were refused for a refusal rate of 0.6 per cent.