New Brunswick continues to set new records in COVID-19 cases, reporting 86 new infections on Monday, the most in one day since the pandemic began.
The new infections drove the active caseload to 650, the most the province has seen.
The number of hospitalizations also climbed, with 41 people under treatment for the virus in the hospital, including 16 in ICU.
New Brunswick residents not fully vaccinated continue to drive the rising numbers. Public Health reported 78 per cent — 67 of the 86 — of Monday’s confirmed new infections involved people who did not have both vaccine doses.
Now into the second week of restrictions limiting under-vaccinated people access to many public venues, the vaccination rates continue to climb steadily, drawing close to the 80 per cent mark.
Public Health reported in its Monday update that 79.3 per cent of New Brunswick residents eligible for the vaccine had received both shots. All residents 12 and older, except those with a medical exemption, can receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Health Canada has yet to approve the vaccine for children under 12.
Health officials set a 90 per cent vaccination target as the number required to reduce the virus spread. More than 88 per cent of those eligible have at least one shot of the vaccine.
Health officials urge eligible New Brunswickers to book their first or second shots as soon as possible at a health network clinic or pharmacy. Those seeking a vaccination can also take advantage of walk-in clinics in their respective regions.
Local walk-in clinics include:
Public Health also explained in its Monday update that the recent surge in cases created delays at its assessment centres.
Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said the high case count means longer wait times for appointments and test results.
“I would like to remind New Brunswickers that COVID-19 testing is conducted on a priority basis,” she said. “Individuals who have symptoms are prioritized, so if you do not have symptoms or are not identified as a contact of a case, please self-monitor and only request a test if you are symptomatic.”
Public Health said assessment and testing delays could hurt people with travel plans. Health officials recommended that people plan accordingly for the rules and restrictions in the travellers’ destination jurisdictions.
“Due to the high volume of tests for health needs, we are not able to expedite travel-related tests in the current testing regime,” said Russell.
Health officials explained the enormous spike in numbers in September is a result of the faster-spreading, more infectious Delta variant being the dominant COVID-19 strain in New Brunswick.
“This is not the same virus that was circulating around the globe a year ago,” said Dr. Gordon Dow, Horizon Health infectious disease specialist, during a press conference on Sept. 24.
He said the variant is twice as infectious, causing it to spread at an exponential rate.
Dow also explained while the vaccine won’t completely stop the virus from infecting a person, it remains the best defence. He said it reduces the chance of getting the virus and reduces the impact of the virus on the body.
Dow said unvaccinated people are 12 times more likely to get infected and 36 times more likely to go to the hospital.
The 86 new COVID-19 cases per region are as follows:
Zone 1, the Moncton region: 33 cases
Zone 2, the Saint John region: 6 cases
Zone 3, the Fredericton and Upper River Valley region: 12 cases
Zone 4, the Edmundston, Grand Falls, St. Quentin region: 23 cases
Zone 5, the Campbellton region: 9 cases
Zone 6, the Bathurst region: 3 cases
Zone 7, the Miramichi region: 0 Cases
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun