2 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total long-term care residents infected to 5

There are two new cases of COVID-19 in the province, both related to a recent outbreak in the Campbellton region.

There are now 15 active cases of COVID-19, all in Zone 5, which has been returned to the orange phase of recovery while restrictions remain eased in the rest of the province.

The new cases are an individual between 40 and 49 years of age, and an individual between 60 and 69 years of age.

The province said one of the two new cases is linked to a close contact of a previously identified case, and the other one is linked to Manoir de la Vallée, a long-term care facility in Atholville.

The release said a Quebec resident has also tested positive, and is also linked to the facility, but the case will be counted as part of Quebec's statistics. Provincial spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane confirmed the case is an employee at the facility.

Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard said in total, the facility has had three staff and five residents test positive, including the Quebec case.

There are five people in hospital and one in the intensive care unit, the release said.

Shephard said three of the hospitalized people are residents of the long-term care home, including the ICU patient.

"To the best of my knowledge I can tell you that [their condition] is stable," Shephard said.

Fallout of care-home outbreak

All of the cases are isolated in the memory care wing of the facility, Shephard said.

"This memory care wing would have doors, like locked doors," she said. "We can't say 100 per cent that a patient doesn't wander in some fashion but it's very much minimized."

She said all the rooms are private, but residents do share a bathroom.

"A cleaning crew has been brought on to support staff in washing down washrooms three times a day at a minimum," she said.

Two of the positive residents are still in the wing in Atholville, she said, and the staff members are isolating in their homes.

She said administrators are in contact with family members on a daily basis, and she's sure residents and families are worried.

"But I'm sure that staff is doing everything they can to give them assurances that every precaution is being taken to protect them."

On Sunday, Premier Blaine Higgs said 10 of the 28 staff members at the special care home left their jobs because of the outbreak. On Wednesday, Shephard said she understands why.

"I do not judge that harshly," she said. "This is a highly female dominated sector - many of which are single parents."

She said extramural nurses have been brought in to replace the 10 workers who resigned.

"We are staffed appropriately right now."

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

The affected residents of Manoir de la Vallée include four people in their 80s and one in their 70s from the 18-bed Alzheimer's unit.

Public Health has previously linked the outbreak to a doctor who travelled to Quebec and didn't self-isolate for the mandatory 14 days when he returned.

The province has conducted 31,791 tests in total, including 1,125 in the last 24 hours.

Staff movement policy criticized

The advocacy group Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights is criticizing the province for not prohibiting workers from moving between facilities.

Cecile Cassista, executive director of the group, said she wants to know why New Brunswick "never bothered to make it mandatory that no workers be allowed to work in multiple care facilities," especially considering the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Shephard said nursing homes did have a protocol of asking their employees to choose one place to work. She said she does not know for sure if that's mandatory.

She said special care homes did not receive that directive.

"The fact is this is a profession that has a challenge with fulfilling their rosters of caregivers" she said, "Understanding that some caregivers will need to work on more than one sector to attain the employment opportunities they need to serve themselves, but they're following very strict protocols."

What to do if you have symptoms?

The province says if you or a member of your family are showing two of the following symptoms, contact Tele-Care 811 or your primary health-care provider:

  • Fever above 38°C or signs of fever (such as chills).

  • A new cough or worsening chronic cough.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • A new onset of fatigue.

  • A new onset of muscle pain.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell.

  • In children, purple markings on the fingers or toes. In this instance, testing will be done even if none of the other symptoms are present.