SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Shannex is reporting a staggering surge in the number of COVID-19 cases at its Parkland seniors' complex in Saint John, N.B.

Seven employees and 11 residents had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, making for a total of 18 new cases within a span of two days.

"There is a significant difference in how this outbreak emerged, with the number of cases being identified all at once here and the situation is evolving here quite rapidly," said Lisa Snodgrass, an infection control specialist for Shannex.

The new cases are all located in one of their neighbourhoods called Lily Court, which is inside Tucker Hall, home to residents living with Alzheimer's and dementia.

The virus is currently contained to that area and residents there are now isolating in their suites.

"Residents with dementia, it's better not to move them," Snodgrass said. "It can be more detrimental to them to move them, than it would be a benefit. Leaving them in the environment they're comfortable in, and more familiar with, is the best-case scenario."

It's a major setback for Shannex, which had only seen a few scattered cases during the month of December.

It's now been about a month and a half since public health declared an outbreak at the facility on Nov. 20 -- an outbreak that will only be lifted 28 days after the last case is identified.

"It's very heartwrenching, upsetting, disappointing to the residents and also to the families when they have now to become isolated again," said seniors' advocate Cecille Cassista. "You know, we've been through this in a long haul."

Snodgrass says they understand the frustration.

"We know that they miss their loved ones, some of them had just gotten back to be able to visit and we had no choice but to stop those visits again, and we are alongside them through this, we want them to know that," Snodgrass said.