FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 122 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, and Premier Blaine Higgs says new measures may be required to motivate more people to get vaccinated.
There are now 229 active cases in the province and 11 people are hospitalized, including nine in intensive care.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell describes the current fourth wave of COVID-19 as an epidemic among the unvaccinated and those not yet eligible for vaccination.
"The vast majority of new infections are happening among those who are not yet fully protected against the COVID-19 virus," Russell told reporters Monday. "Adults who are not fully vaccinated are catching the virus and passing it on to others."
She said 86 per cent of the new cases involve people who are not fully vaccinated.
"If you are not fully vaccinated, you are risking your health and well-being. You are also putting at risk the health of our children and their ability to stay in school," she said.
Higgs said the increase in the number of hospitalized cases is concerning, and additional public health measures will be considered.
"Cabinet will be meeting later this afternoon to ... determine whether new requirements are needed to ensure our hospitals do not become overwhelmed, that our schools will continue to operate as normally as possible and that we can keep New Brunswick in green," Higgs said, referring to the province's colour-coded COVID-19 alert system.
Higgs told a news conference in Fredericton he'd release more details on Wednesday but said a number of possible measures are on the table.
"This includes the possibility of requiring proof of vaccination when accessing non-essential services, businesses and activities. We may also include a requirement for anyone entering the province to register their travel," he said.
Higgs said while 76.9 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated, the number is not rising as quickly as he would like.
"It appears those who are still unvaccinated may need some additional motivation, and that's what I'll be discussing with cabinet and public health later today," he said.
Positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at 11 schools and a number of child-care centres in the province.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said as a result of cases in the schools, new measures for masks will be in place for at least the next two weeks.
"Students of all ages in all schools across New Brunswick must wear a mask in school and while on school buses," Cardy said. "Masks may be removed when students are eating, drinking or engaged in sports or physical education."
He said there will also be additional measures to limit contact between groups of students in the Campbellton and Dalhousie area as a result of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in those communities.
Officials are also monitoring an outbreak at Harvest House, a shelter and community centre in Moncton. There are now 24 confirmed cases at the facility.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2021.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press