COVID-19 detected at CFB Gagetown, premier says

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Premier Blaine Higgs has confirmed there is a single case of COVID-19 at CFB Gagetown near Fredericton.

Cases on the military base fall under federal jurisdiction, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said she did not have any information about the Gagetown case when asked about it at the COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Higgs said the province has had discussions with the base commander, and officials have visited the site to understand the base's isolation protocols. He said the case is "under control."

"We know we've had a number of people come back after tour," he said. "I do understand there is a single case. There's been tracing done."

Higgs said isolation protocols at the base are "very rigid."

Forces don't provide case numbers at local level

In an email Thursday night, Base Gagetown's senior public affairs officer, Capt. Jamie Donovan, said "We can confirm the Premier's comments are accurate."

Donovan declined to release any further details about the case, citing operational security and privacy reasons.

He noted that the Canadian Armed Forces rigorously apply COVID-19 public health measures and work closely with public health authorities.

"Cases of COVID-19 amongst CAF members are reported to the provincial or territorial public health authority in which they occur, in accordance with provincial or territorial requirements, and are included in provincial or territorial case counts," Donovan said.

At Thursday's briefing, Higgs said a number of people have come back from tour recently but did not specify from where.

"They've been very diligent," he said. "I have a very high-confidence level with their ability to contain it."

Oromocto Mayor Robert Powell said there has been some concern in his community because it's close to the base and military members do have to travel, but it hasn't been keeping him up at night.

"They travel a lot, some of them are over in Latvia now and then holidays and Christmas," he said. "But they've been doing a great job so far."


Powell said he has not been briefed about this case but did hear about it "through the grapevine." He said this is the first case he's heard of at the base since the beginning of the pandemic.

Powell said he's never been told if there's been a case in the town of Oromocto, since the province only announced cases by health zone, so not being told specifically about the CFB Gagetown case is nothing new.

According to the Department of National Defence website, 884 cases of COVID-19 have been found among members of the Canadian military. Forty four of these cases were active as of Jan. 18. The website does not provide a breakdown of where the cases were found.