New Brunswick restricts international visitors to long-term care homes
Published Wednesday, March 11, 2020 4:37PM ADT Last Updated Wednesday, March 11, 2020 8:06PM ADT
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, provides an update on COVID-19 restrictions on March 11, 2020. (Laura Brown/CTV Atlantic)
FREDERICTON -- Anyone returning from travel outside of Canada will not be allowed to enter any long-term care facilities in New Brunswick for 14 days.
The latest restriction to address the novel coronavirus was announced Wednesday by Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health.
"Visitors who have travelled outside the country in the last 14 days are restricted from entering long-term care homes. This restriction also applies to those visitors who have travelled outside the country in the last 14 days from entering hospitals to visit those most at risk for severe illness," Russell said.
She said public health officials are concerned about keeping the infection out of nursing homes, seniors' residences and other such locations.
The latest restriction does not apply to health-care professionals who work in those facilities unless they have visited China's Hubei province, Iran or Italy.
"For the New Brunswick health-care system, obviously we need all of our health-care workers to be providing care to the most vulnerable people right now. We need them to be able to provide care to all of the different parts of the system," she said.
That's different than restrictions announced Tuesday by Education Minister Dominic Cardy, in which anyone who travels internationally -- including staff and volunteers -- are barred from entering schools for 14 days.
Russell would not say if she thought there should be a standard policy government-wide.
"All I can say is that I am here to give public health advice to government and to businesses and organizations."
Meanwhile, the president of the organization representing the province's physicians is taking issue with Cardy's restrictions for schools.
Dr. Chris Goodyear of the New Brunswick Medical Society said the restrictions are not rooted in evidence-based public health policy.
"It has caused confusion and concern among parents, students, educators and health-care providers, and risks placing a strain on an already fragile health system. I believe it requires a public health review and reconsideration," Goodyear said Wednesday.
He said the memo issued by the education minister caused a flood of people calling the 811 Tele-Care line seeking clarification.
"When you have different departments of the government acting independently from one another in silos, that's not good. We want the decision making around this to be guided by the experts in public health," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.