New Brunswick loosens COVID-19 restrictions and lowers vaccine-eligibility age to 40
HALIFAX -- Beginning at midnight Monday, all of New Brunswick will be in the yellow level of restrictions for the first time since mid-March.
The province has also lowered the eligibility age for the COVID-19 vaccine to 40. This is effective immediately.
"There have been no new cases of community transmission, very, very good news," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health. "While the risk of further infection has still exists, conditions have improved to the point where public health can recommend the loosening of restrictions in Zone 4."
Russell announced those who are 40 and older can now book an appointment online to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through Vitalité or Horizon health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy.
With over 60,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna arriving this week, she said it could be next week that those in their thirties can get the green light too.
UPDATE ON SCHOOL PROMS AND GRAD CEREMONIES
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said graduation ceremonies can be held ifthe area isn't in a lockdown or under the red alert level.
If an area has to quickly move to those restrictions, the ceremony will have to be virtual.
School-organized proms are not possible.
"All ceremonies or activities will have to follow the mandatory order and the operational plan of the venue hosting the event," Cardy said. "For example, if it’s at a school, you'll follow the school’s operational plan."
There is still an ongoing outbreak at a Grand Falls special-care home where 38 residents and 15 staff have come down with the virus and five have died, despite getting both doses of the vaccine -- the first in February, the second in April.
"In this particular facility, as you know there are different types of people in terms of age, co-morbidities and also we have to understand that all long-term care facilities and nursing homes have advanced care directives for all of their patients," Russell said. "Some patients do not wish to be resuscitated; some patients are palliative, etc. When you take all of that into account, again these are some of the factors that can play into how outbreaks are going to go moving forward in the future."
Second doses have now been offered at 75 per cent of long-term care homes.
YOUNG PEOPLE WITH CONDITIONS NOW ELIGIBLE
Thanks to Health Canada’s approval of Pfizer-BioNTech for children 12 and older, the province is expanding its vaccine rollout for people younger than 16.
"At this time, only children aged 12 to 15 who have a complex medical condition or two or more chronic conditions are eligible to have an appointment scheduled online or by calling 1-833-437-1424 to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the Vitalité or Horizon health networks," New Brunswick Public Health wrote in a news release.
Because of this change, the province will be updating some numbers on its COVID-19 dashboard because, previously only people 16 and older were eligible to eventually receive a vaccine.
"This means the number of New Brunswickers who will be eligible to receive a vaccine will increase to 693,386 from the previous number of about 661,500," the province wrote.
BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES
New Brunswick Public Health also reported 11 new cases of COVID-19. Of those, five are people in New Brunswick and six are people outside New Brunswick who are workers who travel regularly.
Dr. Russell says she does recognize the cases that are out of province are confusing.— Laura Brown (@LauraBrownCTV) May 10, 2021
33 NBers have contracted COVID outside NB.
27% involve workers who travel regularly outside the province.
One case has been connected to the outbreak in NS.
There are 149 active cases, with 11 patients in hospitalized, including seven patients that are hospitalized in New Brunswick; two of those are in an intensive care unit. There have been 41 deaths since the pandemic began.
MILESTONE REACHED AT TESTING LAB
Russell said the testing lab at the Georges-Dumont Hospital in Moncton passed a significant milestone over the weekend as the lab completed its 300,000th COVID-19 test.
Russell also praised the lab for its fast work in identifying the various strains of positive cases and this has helped public health investigators who are conducting contact tracing know when cases are connected or not.