New Brunswick to lift remaining COVID-19 restrictions, but experts warn of relapse
As New Brunswick prepares to drop virtually all of its COVID-19 restrictions Friday night, some infectious disease experts are warning the province should prepare for a surge in cases this fall because of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Allison McGeer, an infectious disease physician with the Sinai Health System in Toronto, says she is sympathetic to Premier Blaine Higgs' decision to loosen health protection measures -- including mask wearing -- given the fact that case numbers in New Brunswick remain low.
McGeer, however, says it is clear the Delta variant is on the move in British Columbia, Alberta and much of the United States, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control now says fully vaccinated Americans should go back to wearing masks in indoor public spaces in regions where the virus is spreading rapidly.
McGeer says she has no problem with easing restrictions in Atlantic Canada -- where case numbers remain low -- so long as residents understand that mask wearing and other protection measures will likely be reimposed in the fall.
Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist, says he supports New Brunswick's plan to drop most health protection measures, but he stressed the plan will fail unless the province maintains mandatory mask wearing in indoor public spaces.
Furness, a professor at the University of Toronto, says once New Brunswickers start sharing indoor air without wearing masks, a fourth wave of infections is sure to be driven by the Delta variant.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.