'This is in your hands, so keep your hands clean,' says N.B.'s top doctor
FREDERICTON -- Fredericton's iconic walking bridge is usually full of people, but it was empty on Friday.
It could have been the weather, but Premier Blaine Higgs hopes it's a sign more people are heeding the warnings.
"Appropriate signage must be put up at access points to identify limitations on gatherings and the requirements for physical distancing," Higgs said. "If a municipality cannot monitor usage of the premises, the premises should be closed."
New Brunswick closed schools and put in place quarantine requirements earlier than some provinces, and now as three weeks turns into four, people are adjusting to a "new normal."
The hope is that it means COVID-19's "peak" could potentially be delayed in this province.
"What you're all wondering now is, how long will this go on and when will this end?" said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health. "The answer is not anytime soon."
Russell says she doesn't know when we will reach the peak but wants us to work on delaying it as long as possible.
"This is in your hands, so keep your hands clean," Dr. Russell said during a news conference in Fredericton. "It is really important to think of these cases a not just cases, but as people. These are our neighbours, our friends, our fellow New Brunswickers. They deserve our compassion and care."
Of the 95 cases in New Brunswick, 54 are travel-related, 28 are close contacts of confirmed cases, three cases are from community transmission, and 10 cases remain under investigation.
Six people have been hospitalized, but two have been discharged. Four people remain in hospital, with one in the intensive care unit. To date, 25 people have recovered from the virus.
“As we see our cases continue to increase it is important that we keep washing our hands, continue to practise physical distancing and also continue to stay at home,” said Dr. Russell. “What we do now to flatten the curve will save lives in our province. We have community transmission so please follow the guidelines.”
On Friday, New Brunswick reported four new cases: three in the Fredericton region and one in Campbellton.
Between four and five hundred people are being tested daily, but testing cannot ramp up without more supplies.
"If we were to increase our testing to 1,000 a day, then we would have like five to six days of materials available," said Higgs.
On Friday morning, there were 3,700 testing kits and 4,900 swabs left. The province is banking on a shipment of more supplies arriving early next week.
Help for post-secondary students
New Brunswick also announced assistance is available for post-secondary students.
It has set up what it is called the "Emergency Bridging Fund for Vulnerable Post-Secondary Students," to help students who are directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post-secondary institutions will distribute a one-time amount of $750 to eligible students
“The fund will support post-secondary students, including international students, who demonstrate a financial gap in meeting their basic needs between now and the end of the term,” said Higgs.
Students must contact their institution directly to be considered and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis," a government news release said. "Funding support will be based upon the need for food, shelter, unanticipated medical costs not covered through health plans, and unforeseen additional academic costs."
Localized flooding in some low-lying areas
In the meantime, it's also preparing for something else that's become all-too familiar.
"We are starting to see some localized flooding in low lying areas where overland flooding is historically an issue," Higgs said.
Back-to-back floods have many New Brunswickers on edge.
The last two years, the St. John River rose to historic levels during the last of April and first of May.
"It's much too early to say what (it) will look like," Higgs said. "While no flooding is in the immediate forecast along the St. John River system, this time of self-isolation is a great opportunity to get ready."