Two new COVID-19 cases in N.B.; province says drug store employee tested positive
HALIFAX -- There are two new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and one of the province's confirmed cases is a Shoppers Drug Mart employee.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the pharmacies where the employee worked were closed and disinfected.
"The pharmacy contacted public health officials and were given recommendations regarding environmental cleaning," Russll said. "They have followed protocols and reopened."
Russell said that anyone who shopped at the two locations might have come into contact with the employee. Public health is following up to check on close contacts with this person.
She said the employee in question worked at the Shopper's Drug Mart at 175 Old Hampton Rd. in Quispamsis, N.B. on March 18 from 3:30 p.m. to midnight, on March 19 between 11:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and March 26 between 8:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. The employee also worked at 57 Landsdowne Ave. location in Saint John on March 20 between 10 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.
The two new cases bring the province's total to 68.
One is a person aged 30 to 40 in Zone 2 and the other is aged 60 to 70 in Zone 3.
"We have moved into a new phase of this outbreak as our investigations have confirmed that there is community transmission of COVID-19 now taking place in New Brunswick," said Russell.
Community spread has been identified in the Moncton, Saint John and Edmundston zones.
Other cases are also being investigated but are not yet confirmed.
"We expect to see the pendulum swing from travel-related cases exclusively to mostly, the majority being community transmission," Russell said.
Now that a community transmission case has been confirmed, health-care workers will take priority to get tested, specifically those who have symptoms, Russell said during a news conference in Fredericton.
Russell also said it's even more important for New Brunswickers to practise physical-distancing, proper hygiene, and to self-isolate if they are not feeling well or have travelled out of the province.
"We don't want people to lower their guard," Russell said, encouraging people to act as if they have it, even if they are not showing any symptoms.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the application process for a one-time $900 benefit opened at noon on Monday. The province is providing this benefit to help people financially until the federal programs come into effect.
Higgs also reminded people to stop gathering in public and to follow the rules or face a fine, referring to a scene at New River Beach on the weekend where 100 cars were parked while people were going for a walk.
"We have notified the authorities," Higgs said. "There won't be a hundred cars there in the future. The beaches and parks are closed. The playgrounds are closed. Any areas where gathering points would be normally, are closed. People need to understand that and we will enforce it."
Higgs said he understands how people have been cooped up all winter and want to get out and enjoy the nice spring weather, but they have to be smart about it and not expose themselves to the virus.
Higgs said he's not aware of anyone being fined, but if New Brunswickers don't follow the state of emergency guidelines, penalties are just a matter of time.
"I assure you, if there's a lineup of cars there in the coming days, there will be fines, there will be warnings, there will be tickets, there will be enforcement, because we are not going to continue let this pandemic spread throughout our province because some people refuse to take it seriously," Higgs said.
Russell said there have been a total of 3,234 tests, but not everyone who took the test identified where they lived. Of those who identified where they lived, below is a breakdown of where the tests occurred.
Adding end time for March 19 date.
Changing end time for March 20 date.