New Brunswick officials announced three new cases of COVID-19 in the province Thursday that aren't linked to an outbreak at a special care home in Moncton.
There are 24 active cases in the province. Three people are in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.
The new cases are a person in their 20s in the Fredericton health zone, a person in their 40s in the Saint John region and a person in their 30s in the Campbellton region. The Fredericton and Saint John cases are related to travel outside the Atlantic bubble, while the Campbellton case remains under investigation.
The new cases were among a series of new developments in the province, including mandatory masks in most public spaces starting at midnight.
The "bubble" with Quebec's Avignon region that allowed non-essential day trips by residents of Listuguj First Nation and Pointe-à-la-Croix into New Brunswick has been suspended, Premier Blaine Higgs said.
There are exceptions for things such as groceries, goods and services not available in their communities, work, medical appointments, school or child care.
"With a significant outbreak in Quebec, we agreed we had to make that change," Higgs said.
Russell said the Moncton region, now in the "yellow" phase of recovery with the rest of New Brunswick, hasn't met Public Health's criteria to revert to the "orange" phase that affects public gatherings and businesses.
"At this point in time, we're not prepared to go to the orange phase," Russell said.
The latest cases were announced a day after 17 new cases were found, the highest single-day increase in the province since the pandemic began. Those cases were all linked to an outbreak at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home.
Thirteen residents, four staff and two family members were infected, but the source of the outbreak remains unclear.
Russell said to slow the potential spread of COVID-19, visitation is now prohibited at adult residential long-term care facilities in the Moncton region until further notice.
Russell said all residents, staff and close contacts have been tested. Residents will be tested again with those results available in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Horizon Health Network asked its employees to volunteer to work at the home.
An Oct. 7 memo from Maura McKinnon, Horizon's chief human resource officer, described an "urgent" need for licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and personal care assistants to provide patient care at Notre-Dame as a result of the outbreak.
The memo says Horizon has been asked to determine if anyone in those classifications can commit to a minimum of 14 days working at the home that has about 110 residents.
The memo says employees will be provided "extensive" training in things such as personal protective equipment guidelines. As well, hotel accommodations, meals, expenses, salary, and two weeks paid self-isolation will be provided to those employees who are selected to work at the home.
Russell said six Horizon employees, 12 Ambulance New Brunswick or Extra-Mural employees and others are helping at the home in various ways.
"There are a large number of people working to help with the outbreak and to protect the staff and residents as things unfold," Russell said.
She said they're using lessons learned from the outbreak in late spring at the Manoir de la Vallée in Atholville, where two residents died.
At that time, public servants were asked to volunteer to help because of a staffing shortage. The home's owner said that when the outbreak began, 10 of its 29 workers left their jobs.
It's unclear whether there have been any resignations at Notre-Dame. Russell said earlier this week there were 56 employees at the home, though on Thursday said 50.
Neither the New Brunswick Nurses Union or Canadian Union of Public Employees represent workers at the home.
No one from Notre-Dame management has commented since the outbreak began. Admissions to the home, as well as visits, have been suspended until further notice.
There are two other potential sources of exposure to COVID-19 related to the outbreak: the optical centre at Costco in Moncton and the Moncton St-Hubert restaurant where an employee has tested positive.
Public health officials have asked anyone who has visited those locations between specific dates and times to self-monitor for symptoms and, if they have those symptoms, to call 811.
Those dates and times for Costco are: Oct. 1 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 2 from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For St.-Hubert: Oct. 3 from 11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 from 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
St.-Hubert spokesperson Josée Vaillancourt said the employee who tested positive on Tuesday evening is not showing symptoms and is doing well. Costco did not return a request for comment.
Russell on Thursday said public heath has identified a traveller who may have been infectious while on two Oct. 4 flights:
- Air Canada Flight 418 from Toronto to Montreal
- Air Canada Flight 8792 from Montreal to Saint John
A total of 82,365 tests have been completed since March, up 669 from the day before.