Passengers on Moncton-bound flight asked to self-isolate due to possible exposure
HALIFAX -- There are no new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Brunswick, but the province's chief medical officer of health has a request for passengers on a WestJet flight that flew from Toronto to Moncton last week.
Dr. Jennifer Russell said one of the passengers on the flight was a woman from Prince Edward Island who had travelled in Spain and is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
WestJet Flight 3456 left Toronto at 8:35 a.m. on March 16 and arrived in Moncton at 12:05 p.m.
“All passengers on that flight are being asked to self-isolate,” Russell said at a news conference in Fredericton on Monday afternoon.
As of Monday, there were 17 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.
"In the days and weeks ahead, it is very likely that I will have to tell you about fellow New Brunswickers who have become seriously ill due to COVID-19," Russell said. "It is very likely I will have to tell you about the growing number of cases in our province's hospitals, and it is very likely that I will have to report, at some point in time, that New Brunswickers have died from this disease, which has happened in other jurisdicitions in Canada."
Then, Russell reminded New Brunswickers of the vital role they can play in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
"How often this happens in the weeks ahead depends on each and every one of you," Russell said. "It is vitally important that all New Brunswickers stay at home to the greatest extent possible and reduce our contact with others. Staying home will save lives."
Russell thanked everyone for their co-operation so far, despite the hardships that it is causing.
Premier Blaine Higgs said there has been almost complete compliance with the government's orders so far, but said the goal is 100 per cent compliance. He said, if individuals and businesses cannot take reponsibility themselves to follow the guideliness to ensure public safety, then government inspectors would take the necessary steps to ensure compliance, which could include issuing fines.
As for those businesses already found in violation?
"They will be checked," Higgs said. "We'll follow up and we will not allow them to continue in violation."
Higgs also appealed to younger people, particularly those younger than 30, who might feel they are immune to the disease. He urged them to think about their family and friends who are older and reminded them that even people who do not show symptoms can carry the disease and infect others.
While many have expressed concern about salvaging the school year, Higgs says his concern is primarily on the health of New Brunswickers. His message to parents concerned about their kids falling behind academically is to keep them from harm's way.
"Their No. 1 priority has to be the health of their family," Higgs said. "Our focus is totally on managing this wave and to flatten the curve."
At the moment, testing for COVID-19 is limited to people who have symptoms and have travelled out of the country, Russell said, but the province is looking at expanding that and that could change as soon as Tuesday.
Russell also said that the province will not have to send samples to the national lab in Winnipeg to confirm if a patient has COVID-19. She said the testing facility in Moncton will be able to confirm a case, whereas before it could only say it was a presumptive case. This will reduce the extra 24 to 48 hours New Brunswick health officials used to have to wait.
The New Brunswick government has set up an e-mail address and toll-free information line, which offer services in both languages, to answer "non-health related questions, including questions about compliance with the state of emergency."
The number, 1-844-462-8387, is operational seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Concerns about workplace safety should continue to be directed to WorkSafe NB," a government news release said.