FREDERICTON — Public health officials in New Brunswick reported 17 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday connected to a special-care home in Moncton -- the largest one-day increase of cases in that province since the pandemic began.
The total number of cases tied to Notre-Dame Manor is 19, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said. She told a news conference the first two people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday are stable in hospital.
"We have launched a co-ordinated response to care for those who have become infected and protect those that the virus has not yet touched," Russell said.
The cases at that care home involve 13 residents, four health-care workers and two family members of an infected resident, she said. Most of the residents at the care home are in individual rooms and the affected people are isolating, she said.
Russell said it's still too early to determine a source of the outbreak, but said the majority of cases in the province have resulted from people who travelled outside the Atlantic region and brought the virus back without knowing it.
She said anyone who has travelled outside Atlantic Canada needs to self-isolate for 14 days. Russell also said anyone who visited the optical centre at the Costco in Moncton and the St. Hubert restaurant in that city since Oct. 1 should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters the outbreak shows that people need to be more vigilant. "We hoped this day wouldn't come, but here we are," Higgs said.
"This situation highlights just how serious our current situation is and how serious this pandemic continues to be. It's easy to forget when our numbers are low."
Higgs said people should not be taking chances and should keep Thanksgiving celebrations small.
The premier said the issue of mandatory mask use in public places will be discussed when the all-party COVID cabinet committee meets Thursday.
Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson -- who will take part in that meeting -- has an aunt who lives at the Notre-Dame manor. He said Wednesday he didn't know if she has tested positive or negative.
"We need to keep taking this virus very seriously," Melanson told reporters in Fredericton.
"For the people that are living in that manor and the people working in that institution, we are thinking about you, and stay calm. Public Health and the health professionals are there to help and to deal with this situation."
Melanson said he'll support any move toward making mask-wearing mandatory in public places.
"I strongly believe that the mask is a tool to minimize the spread of this virus, not only to protect ourselves but to protect others," Melanson said.
There have now been 222 positive cases in New Brunswick, including two deaths. There are currently 22 active cases in the province.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press