New Brunswick hits 800 cases of COVID-19 since start of the pandemic

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FREDERICTON — New Brunswick reported 21 new COVID-19 infections Monday, bringing the total number of reported cases in the province since the beginning of the pandemic to 800.

"For the eighth consecutive day we are reporting on double-digit increases in new cases," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell told a news conference in Fredericton. There are now 204 active reported cases in the province, including one person in hospital.

Russell said the latest wave of COVID-19 is proving more challenging than the first. "In the first wave we saw limited outbreaks in one or two regions at a time," she said. "Now we have numerous cases reported in five of our seven health zones. No corner of our province has been left untouched.

"We are seeing multiple outbreaks in nursing homes and adult residential facilities in several communities, putting new stress on residents, staff, families and caregivers."

Russell said more than 1,700 New Brunswickers are in self-isolation because of contact with positive cases, adding that 85 health-care workers are isolating for COVID-related reasons.

Last week, officials reported outbreaks at four senior residential facilities; Russell said none had new cases to report Monday.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said five schools in the province have moved to some degree of at-home learning because of cases reported last week.

"I know this situation is stressful for families and anxiety is high," Cardy said Monday as he thanked the more than 1,000 students and staff who self-isolated over the weekend as a precaution. He urged everyone in the province to continue following public health guidelines.

"It is critical that New Brunswickers continue to wear their masks, meet virtually whenever possible, keep your distance, wash your hands and generally follow the advice of Public Health," Cardy said.

Russell said more than 7,700 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province, adding that 3,443 doses were in reserve to ensure a supply of booster shots.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press