Health officials report eight new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick

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FREDERICTON — Public health officials in New Brunswick reported eight new cases of COVID-19 Monday — the smallest increase in new cases in nearly a month.

Five of the new cases were in the Edmundston region, the northwest part of the province that has been under lockdown for more than one week.

There are now 157 active cases in that area with 55 of them at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care facility. With 34 residents and 21 employees having contracted the virus, it is the worst outbreak seen in the province since the pandemic began.

Officials of the home did not respond to requests for comment Monday but a message on Facebook confirmed that all staff and residents who tested negative were vaccinated Sunday. The post also said that meals would be provided to the facility by staff at the New Brunswick Community College starting Tuesday.

WorkSafeNB is conducting an inspection at Manoir Belle Vue, but spokeswoman Florence Flower said they are inspecting many workplaces in the province for their operational plans in dealing with the pandemic.

The Shannex Parkland facility in Saint John has had 51 cases among 21 staff and 30 residents.

The other three new cases Monday were in the Moncton area, which remains under the red pandemic-alert level, while the rest of the province is under the lower, orange level.

Officials say there are a total of 273 active reported COVID-19 cases in the province, with three patients in hospital, including two in intensive care.

The province tightened restrictions last week, requiring rotational workers who return to New Brunswick to self-isolate for a full 14 days. As well, anyone who lives in the same home as the returning worker must also isolate for the same period.

Some rotational workers have been voicing their concerns online, but Health Department spokesman Bruce Macfarlane said the government is trying to protect the population from the new more contagious variants of the virus.

"We understand that this is a difficult and frustrating situation for families and for those impacted, however, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 after travelling outside of New Brunswick is rising and resulting in outbreaks here at home," Macfarlane wrote in an email.

"Sadly, these outbreaks often led to infections among our medically vulnerable, and our senior population living in long-term care facilities, resulting in heightened restrictions."

New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,264 infections and 18 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press