Health officials extend lockdown in part of northwest New Brunswick for another week

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FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is keeping part of the northwest of the province under lockdown for at least another seven days to combat a high number of COVID-19 cases.

The Edmundston, N.B., area along with the Upper Madawaska region will remain in lockdown, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Thursday.

She said other parts of the northwest, including Grand Falls, Saint-Leonard and Drummond, were scheduled to move from the red to the orange pandemic-alert level at midnight, under which restaurant dining rooms, spas and fitness centres can reopen.

Also in orange zones, faith venues can open with a maximum of 50 people, and individual recreational and sports organizations can resume operations but are limited to holding practices.

The rest of the province will remain at the yellow level.

Health officials reported eight new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, four of which were in the Edmundston region, which has 104 of the 140 active reported cases in the province.

There were two new cases in the Moncton region, while the Saint John and Bathurst areas each reported one new case.

Officials said 18 patients were hospitalized with the disease, including 12 in intensive care.

Shephard said the province is concentrating on getting more New Brunswickers vaccinated, and is making an added effort in the Edmundston area.

"The province is just under 25 per cent vaccinated (with a first dose), but in the Zone 4 area we're a full 10 per cent above that — we're at 35.4 per cent," Shephard said about the Edmundston region.

"We have allotted as many extra doses as we can to go to that area."

There have been 1,760 COVID-19 cases reported in the province since the start of the pandemic. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said 184 of the cases have been confirmed as variants of concern: 180 involving the mutation first identified in the United Kingdom and four involving the variant first detected in South Africa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press