New Brunswick implements mandatory hotel isolation, reports 16 new COVID-19 cases
HALIFAX -- In what New Brunswick’s top doctor describes as a "troubling trend," the province is reporting 16 new COVID-19 cases Friday – most of them related to travel.
In turn, the province has announced new mandatory measures, including setting up isolation hotels.
"During a pandemic, all travel is inherently risky," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, in Friday’s briefing. "Travel for leisure is a risk nobody should be taking, and yet, it’s still happening."
Eight of Friday’s new cases are in the Bathurst region (Zone 6), all related to travel outside the province.
Four are in the Moncton region (Zone 1), with three of those related to travel and one under investigation.
Two are in the Saint John region (Zone 2), both related to travel.
Two are in the Edmundston region (Zone 4), which are contacts of a previously identified case.
Russell says 11 of Friday’s travel-related cases are New Brunswick workers who are self-isolating outside of the province.
NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
In Friday’s media conference, New Brunswick premier Blaine Higgs announced new mandatory isolation measures.
Effective at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, the following groups of people will be required to isolate for the first seven days of their mandatory 14 days in a hotel at their own expense:
- All leisure and non-essential travellers
- Every person approved to move to New Brunswick
- All business travellers who are not rotational workers, truckers, or commuters
"This rule applies regardless of whether or not the traveller has been vaccinated," said Higgs. "Isolation hotels will be located in Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton, and Woodstock."
The mandatory hotel isolations will be coordinated by the Canadian Red Cross. Premier Higgs says they will also provide meals, attend to medical needs, and provide 24/7 security.
Higgs says the cost to each traveller is expected to land at around $200 per day.
"For direction on which hotel you should go to upon arrival, call the travel registration number: 1-833-948-2800," added Higgs.
On day five of the mandatory hotel isolation, the traveller will be subject to a COVID-19 test. If it comes back negative, they can finish their 14-day isolation at home – as long as nobody else is there, and on the condition that they take another test on day ten.
Higgs added that travellers must travel alone or by taxi between airports, hotels, and home during this period. He said no carpooling or family pickups will be allowed.
The new requirement is expected to stay in place until late May, but will be revisited weekly.
The same requirement will apply to students travelling home from “hot spots” including Halifax – the only difference is that the province will pay their hotel expense.
Anyone who travelled with, or helped the student move, will be required to do the same mandatory isolation.
Also effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.: every New Brunswick resident who leaves on a regular basis, including truck drivers and commuters, will do a mandatory isolation at home. This excludes rotational workers.
During their mandatory 14 days at home, Higgs says they can only leave to “meet medical needs” or obtain necessities of life – provided they don’t come into contact with anyone.
This also applies to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Higgs adds that all will be required to register with the province before entering. This can be done at the border, "but it will slow you down" he said. He encouraged travellers to register online before entering.
He added that police presence will also be increased at the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border.
“I appreciate, that in most areas we have a high rate of compliance,” said Higgs. “95 per cent, sometimes higher."
Higgs also said the fines for non-compliance would be raised: from $292.50 to $580.50.
"We must ensure that we are following health rules like never before, because a single miss can have such a dramatic effect on our province," added Higgs.
UPDATE ON HIGH SCHOOLS
Higgs said based on the reccomendations of Public Health, cabinet, and the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19, high schools will not return to full-time in-person learning this school year.
Classes are expected to resume in September.
HOMEBOUND VACCINATION PROGRAM
Russell said a program will be available, starting May 3, to help vaccinate those who cannot leave their home.
The program is scheduled to be available to those over the age of 55 who cannot leave their home to go to a pharmacy or other vaccination clinic.
Existing clients of the province's Extra-Mural program will be assessed to determine if they qualify for the service.
When it begins, caretakers responsible for the person will be able to apply on their behalf.
N.B. COVID-19 CASE DATA
There are currently 148 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick.
The province has had 1,839 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
In total, 1,656 people have recovered, and 34 people have died in the province from COVID-19-related causes.
Thirteen people are currently in New Brunswick hospitals with COVID-19, with five in intensive care units.
"We get reports from the hospital every day," Dr. Russell said in Friday’s media conference. "There are people who are hanging onto their lives by a thread."
Public health says 281,343 total tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic.
The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:
- Zone 1 – Moncton region: 387 confirmed cases (18 active cases)
- Zone 2 – Saint John region: 255 confirmed cases (13 active cases)
- Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 258 confirmed cases (nine active cases)
- Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 690 confirmed cases (96 active cases)
- Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 182 confirmed cases (no active cases)
- Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 40 confirmed cases (11 active cases)
- Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 27 confirmed cases (one active case)
New Brunswick's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines administered to date.
As of Friday, 228,004 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New Brunswick.
Approximately 31 per cent of the province's population eligible for the vaccine has received at least one dose.
Premier Higgs said Friday that this rate is going up by about one per cent each day.
REMINDER OF LOCKDOWN, ORANGE AND YELLOW LEVELS
A section of Zone 4, including Edmundston and the upper Madawaska region, remains in lockdown.
The communities of Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls are in the Orange level.
All other zones and communities in the province, including the Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions in Zone 4, remain in the Yellow level.