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New Brunswick reports four new cases of COVID-19 at Atholville nursing home
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick reported four new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region on Wednesday.
All are in Zone 5 and they are under investigation, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said during a news conference in Fredericton.
Of the four new cases, two people are in their 50s and two people are in their 80s. That brings the total number of active cases in Zone 5 to 28. Two of them are residents at Manoir de la Vallee in Atholville, N.B., and two are staff members at the nursing home.
Dr. Russell also confirmed that the virus has spread at the home, making its way beyond the ward where it was first found. She also revealed details about New Brunswick's other active case in the Moncton area on Tuesday. That case involved a temporary foreign worker who had been in self-isolation.
"We have the proper procedures in place," said Premier Blaine Higgs. "These workers self-isolate upon arrival in the province, they are tested as part of the process, this enables us to contain the spread of the virus."
New Brunswick has had 151 confirmed cases and 121 have recovered, including one of the recent cases in the Campbellton outbreak. There has been one death. Five patients are hospitalized with one in an intensive care unit. As of Wednesday, the province has conducted 35,263 tests for the virus and 4.5 per cent of New Brunswickers have been tested so far.
The province has put a call out to all civil servants, asking if they're willing to receive training and go to the Campbellton region to help with the situation.
Eight people have responded so far.
Dr. Russell says the situation at the home has taught the province how challenging the virus can be -- and how to react.
"We now have rapid-response teams that are going to be dedicated to each region so that if we do see an outbreak in a nursing home moving forward, we would have a very quick reponse, I would say similar to this, only quicker," Dr. Russell said.
David Coon isn't sure more can be done inside the special care home, but says the situation is showing the province's weakness when comes to staffing.
"What it tells us, really, is that if we had numbers of special care or nursing homes where the coronavirus found its way in, we would be looking at having to call in the army too," Coon said. "We currently don't have the ability to properly staff nursing homes or special care homes in the event of a serious outbreak."
Dr. Russell encouraged New Brunswickers to be careful, but to avoid ostracizing and stigmatizing people from the Campbellton region -- or people who have travelled there.
"The people of the Campbellton-Restigouche region need us to be there for them," said Dr. Russell.
Premier Blaine Higgs agreed.
"In these times, we must remain vigilant no matter where we live, but we must also remain empathetic and kind to our fellow New Brunswickers," said Higgs. "We cannot forget the things that make our province and our people so special, our diversity, friendliness, and willingness to help others when they need it."
There have been suggestions of an Atlantic "bubble" that would allow people to travel freely between the Atlantic provinces.
Premier Blaine Higgs said the issue is still under discussion and would be among topics when the four Atlantic premiers meet Wednesday evening.
"It is still very much on the radar to look at this in early summer. We haven't set a date collectively," Higgs said.
He said he expected a decision in the coming weeks.
With files from The Canadian Press.
The number of active cases in Zone 5 (the Campbellton area) was changed to 28. It was originally reported as 29, but that is the total in the province and includes one active case in the Moncton area.