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New $10 million public health lab will prepare N.B. for next health event: minister


After two years of COVID-19 commandeering Dr. Georges Dumont Hospital's clinical lab in Moncton, N.B., the province is spending $10 million to build another one.

It will be in the same building, but will focus solely on public health testing, like COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, and allow the Dumont lab to return to its former duties.

“We’ve had this once in a 100-year pandemic with COVID-19, but we can’t forget – we’ve had SARS, we’ve had H1N1, we’ve had other public health issues that we’ve had to address,” said New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “So we need to be prepared and these last two years have taught us that we can elevate our condition for being able to deal with it.”

The lab should be completed by March of 2024. It’s part of the province’s health plan, released in the fall of 2021.

“We had to prioritize COVID, so we had testing that had to be halted in order for the Dumont Hospital, and others, like the Saint John Regional Hospital, to prioritize COVID testing,” she said. “Now we will be able to keep them separate so we can keep up with both.”

The province is lifting COVID-19 restrictions in less than two weeks. Shephard wouldn’t say if that means PCR testing at the lab would stop, only that a plan will be released soon on how New Brunswick will be keeping up with COVID-19 reality.

“Many people are asking, 'What will happen after March 14?' You just have to look at the numbers, again, today it’s about 1,000 cases in the province…plus all the others that are unknown or not declared,” said Liberal Health Critic Jean-Claude D’Amours. “So, the number of cases are still high.”

D’Amours is hoping the plan comes out soon, so New Brunswickers can prepare.

Shephard says this new lab will mean the province is ready, should another public health even happen. Top Stories

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