FREDERICTON -- For the second time since lifting the mandatory order and removing pandemic-related restrictions, New Brunswick has seen a double-digit rise in COVID-19 case counts over a two-day reporting period.

Nearly 30 cases have been identified as of Saturday, when the province moved into the green phase of its pandemic recovery, and the province's top doctor says the majority of recent cases are among those who are not fully protected.

"I am very concerned, in the sense that most of the cases since early July have been in people that have been unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated," says Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health.

As of Tuesday, 68.1 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, however the province had originally said that all restrictions would be lifted when that number had reached 75 per cent. The percentage of first-doses is now at 82.3 per cent.

"I'm hoping, the idea that we still have under 20 per cent that aren't vaccinated at all, that they will start to rethink that," says premier Blaine Higgs, speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon in Fredericton.

Amid climbing cases in the province and a long list of possible exposure notifications, Dr. Russell says they're following the situation very closely.

"These freedoms and this transition period is something we don't take lightly, we don't take for granted," says Dr. Russell.

"But the trade-off, was supposed to be that the population would get vaccinated at 75 per cent level with two doses at a minimum."

New Brunswick lifted its mandatory order at 11:59 p.m. on Friday night, marking an end to all COVID-related restrictions, however, some do continue to maintain mask wearing.

"I'm going to different stores and I'm surprised…how many people are still wearing a mask," says opposition health critic JC D'Amours.

"I think this is a good sign that there's many people that want to take an extra step to be safe and stay safe."

There are now 44 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.