14-day lockdown for New Brunswick's Edmundston region set to take effect

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FREDERICTON — Public health officials in New Brunswick reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, just hours before the province's Edmundston region was set to enter a 14-day lockdown at midnight.

Ten of the new cases are in the Edmundston region in the northwest of the province, while there were five in the Moncton region and one case each in the Campbellton and Saint John regions.

There are currently 328 active cases in the province. Five patients are hospitalized, with three in intensive care.

There have been 1,104 positive cases and 13 COVID-related deaths in the province since the pandemic began.

Health officials say the strict health order of a lockdown is needed to curb a steady rise in daily infections that they fear is about to get out of control.

"Our objective with the implementation of the lockdown measures ... is to reduce opportunities for transmission by having people limit their movements to the greatest extent possible," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Saturday in a statement.

"When we stop moving and interactions, we stop COVID-19," she said.

Starting Sunday, non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region.

The health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. All indoor and outdoor gatherings among people of different households are prohibited.

The province says the situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days and that the provincial cabinet may extend the lockdown if required.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press