There are five new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick on Friday, which brings the number of active cases to 92.
The new cases are in Zone 5, where there are now 48 active cases. The cases include two people 19 and under, one person 20 to 29, and two people 50 to 59.
Public Health said all five people are self-isolating, and their cases are under investigation.
There are 41 active cases of COVID-19 in the Moncton region, or Zone 1, one active case the Fredericton region, Zone, 3, and two active cases in Zone 2, the Saint John region.
Two people have recovered since Thursday, but five people remain in hospital, one in intensive care.
The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 297 and 203 have recovered. There have been two deaths.
Since the government's last report, 1,140 tests were conducted, for a total of 89,852 tests so far in the pandemic.
Zone 1 and Zone 5 remain in the orange phase of the COVID-19 recovery plan, while the rest of the province is at the yellow level of the recovery plan.
The province's state of the emergency order was renewed Thursday.
1 confirmed case in Listuguj
Listuguj First Nation in Quebec says there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community.
The person is self-isolating and being monitored by Quebec Public Health, the band council said in a release. Contact tracing is underway.
The Quebec government notified the First Nation on Thursday evening that a community member had tested posted for COVID-19.
"Due to the nature of this pandemic, it was inevitable that we would eventually see a confirmed case in our community," the release said.
As a result of the confirmation of the case, government services that aren't critical are closed.
Earlier on Thursday, Listuguj Community Health Services director Donna Metallic said that an employee, who isn't a resident, had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Listuguj had been notified Tuesday night by New Brunswick Public Health that a New Brunswick resident who tested positive for COVID-19 had recently met with Listuguj residents.
"As an extra precaution, we will be implementing a rotational schedule for clinics so the community has the least disruption possible," Metallic wrote after the non-community member's case was confirmed.
About 2,100 people live in the First Nation across the New Brunswick-Quebec border from Campbellton.
Premier Blaine Higgs announced Oct. 8 the suspension of the mini-bubble with Quebec's Avignon region, which had allowed non-essential day trips by residents of Listuguj First Nation and Pointe-à-la-Croix into New Brunswick, because of the significant outbreak of cases in Quebec.
The Campbellton region was moved to the orange phase after a number of cases were confirmed in schools in the city and in schools in Dalhousie. By Thursday, the region had 43 active cases.
COVID panel defends Russell's refusal to elaborate on outbreak
Four political party leaders have defended Dr. Jennifer Russell's decision not to explain how a travel-related case of COVID-19 in Moncton led to an outbreak that reached a special care home.
Russell, the chief medical officer of health, was asked earlier this week whether the travel case was a person who was not required to self-isolate under provincial rules or a person who didn't self-isolate, despite a requirement. She wasn't asked for information that identified a person.
But during a panel discussion on Information Morning Fredericton on Friday, all four party leaders suggested that revealing how the case became an outbreak at a special care home might reveal someone's name.
Premier Blaine Higgs said that during contact tracing, Public Health relies on people's honesty to say where they've been and whether they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. Without that co-operation, health officials are not able to zero in on all contacts quickly.
"The more that is discussed publicly, then the less people are likely to share the whole story of where they've been."
This reluctance would then hurt the whole population, he said, because tracing can't be done.
"That has been our success to date. And judging by where we are right now in these outbreaks, it would appear certainly to be working, that we're getting these things surrounded."
'Balance and rationale'
Moncton has 41 active cases of COVID-19, including cases at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home. Five people were in hospital, including one in intensive care.
Green Party Leader David Coon said that from the information revealed the public so far — that the outbreak was related to a travel case — people can assume the person didn't isolate. It isn't important the public know how the outbreak developed but that Public Health does.
Coon didn't address the issue of whether the person was in a category of people who come into the province from outside the bubble and aren't required to self-isolate, but he made a vague reference to rules.
"Any adjustments need to be made around rules concerning people travelling across the borders are made and that work is actually underway now," he said without elaboration.
Roger Melanson, interim leader of the Liberal Party, said he thinks the government should stick to sharing what he called "pertinent information" that New Brunswickers need to understand what contributed to the outbreak.
"I don't think it's important to know who the individuals are. I think it's important that the information, again, that is made public is pertinent for people to react and act in consequence of this outbreak."
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said the government and Public Health needed to be as transparent as possible but in this case, that means it only needs to provide information the public needs to act in a way that affects their day-to-day lives in relation to COVID.
"There has to be some balance here and some rationale."
Russell also cited privacy in her decision not to inform the public and suggested she wouldn't even have revealed the outbreak began with a travel case had it not been good news, in the sense that Public Health has been able to do contact tracing.
Student absentee rates increasing
Schools in Zones 1 and 5 — the Moncton and Campbellton health regions — are seeing a higher absentee rate among students after zones were moved to the orange phase a week ago.
Anglophone East superintendent Greg Ingersoll said the district can control keeping schools safe for students, but it can't control parents' decisions to keep students home when there is an outbreak of COVID-19.
"The variable that's happening now is not something that the system is controlled for. [It] is that parents are just fearing sending their children to school just because of what's going on in the community."
The Moncton and Campbellton regions each have more than 40 active cases of the disease. Both are in the orange phase of recovery, which is more restrictive than the yellow phase the rest of the province is in.
Public Health has said it is reasonably safe for schools to be open under orange-level COVID precautions. Students and staff have to wear masks more at this level. Students must wear a mask on the school bus even when sitting alone and high school students have to keep their masks on at all times except when eating.
"Whatever the reason is they're still missing school," Ingersoll said of the children being kept home. "And there's going to be bigger gaps in their learning than what we're trying to compensate for from last spring. So that's something we're going to have to address as a system.
"But today the system is designed on everybody being in school."
With more students out, requests to have school work sent home are increasing. Ingersoll said teachers don't have time to teach in class as well as prepare at-home learning packages for a large number of students. He adds there are two scenarios that have been planned for — either everybody is in a school or everybody's home.
Teachers are either working with students in front of them or working with students remotely.
"What we're not prepared for is half the class is there and half the class is home."
While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools in Zone 1, there have been five confirmed cases in schools in Campbellton and Dalhousie.
An Anglophone North spokesperson said it saw a rise in absenteeism after the school cases were confirmed, but the attendance rate has been improving daily.
"Students are continuing to return to school," Meredith Caissie said in an email. "The expectation is for our students to take part in in-person learning when our schools are open."
Listuguj students upset they can't go to school
Some high school students on the Listuguj First Nation are upset they're being left with no option but to continue their high school classes online while their classmates in Campbellton get to attend school.
As a result of the mini-bubble with Quebec's Avignon region being suspended, 103 students who attended Sugarloaf Senior High School and three students who attend the French high school in Campbellton were told they couldn't attend school in person.
They are now on remote learning, which began Thursday.
Grade 12 student Oakley Barnaby said he wondered what he was going to do in place of his two shop class, where the majority of work is hands on.
"How am I supposed to learn stuff hands on if I can't go to school and be taught how to do it?" Barnaby asked.
No one has answers for him, he said.
Hannah Vicaire shares Barnaby's frustration. While she expected something like this to happen, she thought it would be the whole school shutting down so everyone would be doing online learning, not just the students in her community.
"I didn't think that was ever going to happen, even with like the whole COVID going on."
Reece Vicaire, in Grade 11, said students are missing out on a lot not being able to be at the school. instead, they'll be working out of a centre in the First Nation.
"The school can offer us a lot more because they have the shop classes, they have the art room and just stuff like that but at the centre, they don't have stuff like that. We can't do hands-on learning if we really wanted to."
Hannah said she's not upset with New Brunswick but wit.remier Blaine Higgs for making the decision to close the mini-bubble before there was a positive case at the high school.
"We have every right to an education, and they're taking it away as if it's just nothing. But they don't know that it means so much to us."
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test on the government website at gnb.ca.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should:
Stay at home.
Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.
Describe symptoms and travel history.