The bad news keeps coming as New Brunswick attempts to bring COVID-19’s fourth wave under control.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, Public Health reported another COVID-related death, announcing the loss of a person in their 40s in Zone 1, the Moncton region. The death was the 54th since the pandemic began and the fifth reported in the past three days.
In a released statement, Premier Blaine Higgs said the loss of life is more than a data point.
“Each life taken in New Brunswick by COVID-19 is more than a number. These are people’s parents, children, friends, neighbours and coworkers,” he said. “On behalf of all New Brunswickers, Marcia and I extend our deepest sympathies to the person’s loved ones during their time of mourning.”
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell also extended her condolences to the bereaved family and friends.
New Brunswick once again set a new daily record, reporting 82 confirmed new infections provincewide, including 30 in Zone 3, the Fredericton and Upper River Valley region.
The new cases push the province’s active caseload to a record 628, of which 33 are under treatment in New Brunswick hospitals. Fifteen of those are in intensive care units.
The Sunday report stresses the importance of vaccination in the COVID battle, noting that 64 of the 82 new cases were not fully vaccinated. Each daily report states that between 70 and 85 per cent of newly confirmed infections involve people with no or only a single vaccine shot.
During a COVID technical update regarding the state of the pandemic on Friday, Horizon Health’s infectious disease specialist, Dr. Gordon Dow, outlined the importance of the vaccine to fight the much faster spreading and more infectious Delta variant.
He said the bad news about the Delta variant is that it’s twice as infectious as the original virus. Dow said that means, without the vaccine in the equation, that one person infected with the original virus would infect 27 others over four weeks. With the Delta variant, the infected person would pass the virus on to 216 people over the same period.
From a good news perspective, Dow added, two doses of the vaccine work “incredibly well” against the Delta variant. However, he said, a single shot is not effective against Delta.
While stressing the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective at protecting someone from getting the virus, Dow said it remains highly effective at reducing the chance of contracting it and limiting the risk of hospitalization or death.
In Canada, he said, 90 per cent of those currently infected by COVID are unvaccinated, adding those not fully vaccinated are 12 times more likely to be infected and 36 times more likely to be hospitalized.
At the same press conference on Friday, Dr. Martin Chalifoux, lead COVID-19 epidemiologist for New Brunswick Public Health, described the spread of the fourth wave, using a network graph to demonstrate his point.
With dots, the graph showcased 700 infections between Sept. 1 and 21, indicating several massive clusters. The chart also demonstrated the majority of the infections involved the unvaccinated.
Chalifoux pointed out one significant cluster from early September, which began with many people congregating at a single event. He said that event resulted in 64 infections, not counting others they unintentionally infected.
Of the 30 new infections announced on the Sunday update in Zone 3, 22 remain under investigation by contact tracers.
Zone 1 reported 27 new cases;
Zone 2, Saint John region, four cases;
Zone 4, Edmundston, Grand Falls and St. Quentin, 14 cases;
Zone 5, Campbellton region, two cases;
Zone 6, Bathurst region, four cases; and
Zone 7, Miramichi region, one case.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun