New Brunswick reports 17th COVID-19 related death, 16 new cases; changes to orange level
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick has reported its 17th COVID-19 related death, involving a resident of an Edmundston long-term care facility.
One death was reported on Friday, involving a person in their 80s who died Thursday and who was a resident of Manoir Belle Vue – a long-term care facility in Edmundston, N.B.
"On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I want to offer my sincere sympathy to the loved ones of the deceased," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. "Know that we all grieve this heartbreaking loss with you."
There have been a total of 17 deaths related to COVID-19 in the province, with two deaths reported on Wednesday.
New Brunswick public health is also reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while 16 previously reported cases are now considered resolved as the active number of cases remains at 313.
Friday's new cases involve:
- Four new cases are reported in the Moncton region (Zone 1).
- Two new cases are reported in the Fredericton region (Zone 3)
- Nine new cases are reported in the Edmundston region (Zone 4)
- One new cases reported in the Bathurst region (Zone 6) involving
All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.
CONCERN OVER NEW VARIANTS
Russell said the new variants of COVID-19 are cause for concern.
"There's four in particular we're concerned about right now and there will be more," Russell said. "We have the UK variant that's been in the UK since December. It went through the entire country within six weeks. We have the African variants, which are now circulating in B.C. and (there is) community transmission. The UK variant is in Ontario, and there's community transmission of that one as well. These are much more transmissible, they're much more contagious, and they infect, way more people, so that is the challenge we're facing now."
Russell said New Brunswick went through the first wave of the pandemic "unscathed," but things didn't go as well during the second wave.
"We're getting there," Russell said. "We still have a zoning lockdown right now in another zone in red. But I would say that we are in the middle of the second wave right now. But the third wave is going to be upon us very soon and that third wave is much worse than the first and second combined. This third wave is as a result of these new, more transmissible more contagious variants, or streams."
Russell said the new variants will arrive in the province without people knowing and because they are more contagious, it will spread faster before it can be detected.
"It will spread more quickly," Russell said. "It will outrun our ability to contact trace and isolate these (people). We have to adapt our strategies to respond to these new dangers that are posed by these variants and strains that are much much more serious, much more dangerous and much more difficult to control."
CHANGES TO ORANGE PHASE
During Friday’s news update, Russell confirmed that six of the province’s zones will remain at the orange level "for several more weeks," but changes will be made.
“No region in this province can move past the orange level until we have a clear understanding of the impact of these variants,” said Russell.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said cabinet was taking public health's advice and not moving any zones to yellow.
"Right now, the risk is simply too high," Shephard said. "Even in Zones 5, 6 and 7 where case counts are low."
Residents in the orange phase will be allowed to interact with their household bubble plus 10 other people, as long as they are a ‘steady group of 10,’ meaning consistent, close contacts outside of their household bubble.
"Please continue to keep your number of contacts low," Shephard said. "I know changes to the rules can be frustrating and difficult to keep up with. I am asking everyone to continue to be adaptable, as we strive to stay one step ahead of COVID-19."
Russell said Public Health recommended that Zone 5 (Campbellton region), Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and Zone 7 (Miramichi region) remain at the Orange level to help prevent new COVID-19 variants, such as the ones identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, from entering New Brunswick.
"Early data suggests that these new variants may be more contagious, so it is important that we take the necessary precautions now to reduce the transmission of the virus and any of its variants in our communities," said Russell.
Friday's new cases increase the number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick to 1,218 since the pandemic began. Over half of the total cases in the province have been identified in the month of January, with 619 total cases reported so far this month.
Public Health said in a news release that four patients are hospitalized with two in intensive care.
The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:
- Zone 1 – Moncton region: 299 confirmed cases (74 active cases)
- Zone 2 – Saint John region: 217 confirmed cases (33 active cases)
- Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 231 confirmed cases (33 active cases)
- Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 257 confirmed cases (157 active cases)
- Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 182 confirmed cases (7 active cases)
- Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 24 confirmed cases (7 active cases)
- Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 8 confirmed cases (2 active cases)
RED AND ORANGE LEVEL RULES / LOCKDOWN
UPDATE ON VACCINES
According to New Brunswick's COVID-19 dashboard, the province has administered 14,257 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Jan. 25. Of those, 2,839 people have received their second dose.
The province has received a total of 21,675 doses of vaccine as of Jan. 25, and are holding 7,418 in reserve for second dose and planned clinics.
VEHICLE TRAFFIC INFORMATION
New Brunswick's online dashboard includes information about vehicle traffic attempting to enter the province.
On Thursday, 1,239 personal and 1,391 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province.
Of the vehicles attempting to cross the border, 13 were refused entry, for a refusal rate of 0.5 per cent.
It was originally reported that there were three new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region). The province has provided corrected information.