N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 8 new cases in the province

·8 min read
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 8 new cases in the province
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 8 new cases in the province

New Brunswick has eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total of active cases to 90.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said six of the new cases are in Zone 5, the Campbellton region and two are in Zone 1, the Moncton region. The people with positive cases range in age from their 30s to 70s.

The Campbellton and Moncton regions now have 43 cases each.

There are also two cases in the Saint John region and two in the Fredericton region.

Five people are in hospital, with one in intensive care.

On Tuesday, 954 tests were done for COVID-19, for a total of 87,677 so far in the pandemic.

Lessons from the Moncton outbreak

Russell was again asked about the source of the Moncton outbreak, and again she declined to give specifics beyond saying that it was travel-related.

She said the only reason she shared that detail was because "that means it's not community transmission."

And that's good news, she said.

"Community transmission means we cannot trace the source," she said. "Community transmission means that we are at risk of — if we had two more community transmission cases within six days — we'd be going back to the red phase."

She said all of the information provided to the public about the two outbreaks has been "timely, transparent, up-to-date, and appropriate with respect to protecting the public."

Watch | Dr. Jennifer Russell talks about lessons learned during the Moncton outbreak

Russell said her department learned a great deal from the outbreak at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home. The first thing is that 12,000 people cross New Brunswick's borders each day.

"And those 12,000 people each have the risk of bringing COVID-19 with them."

As cases numbers continue to rise outside our borders, the threat to New Brunswick also increases, she said.

She said they learned that people were getting complacent — they were not staying two metres apart, they weren't wearing masks, and they were maintaining that close contact for more than 15 minutes.

All things they were advised not to do, said Russell.

They learned that the majority of the cases were adults and the majority of the transmissions were not work-related, but involved social interactions.

"The bottom line is we learned that people did not stay home when they were sick," said Russell. "They did not get tested when they were sick."

She said it doesn't matter how the virus gets into the province, it will be spread by people not following the rules.

"So we need to continue to be vigilant. The next 14 days are going to be critical to ensure that we can contain these two outbreaks."

5th school in Zone 5 has confirmed case

A fifth school in the Campbellton region health zone, Aux-Quatre-Vents high school in Dalhousie, has a case of COVID-19.

Parents and guardians were notified of the case by email Wednesday morning, and the school remains open.

With this case, all schools in Dalhousie now have a confirmed case of COVID-19. The others are Dalhousie Regional High School and two elementary schools, Académie Notre-Dame and L.E. Reinsborough School.

Suglarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton also has a case.

Public Health officials have warned parents about possible exposures at Campbellton Middle School and Lord Beaverbrook School in Campbellton, and at École François-Xavier-Daigle in Allardville, École Place-des-Jeunes in Bathurst, and École communautaire Carrefour Étudiant in Beresford.

Serge Bouchard/CBC
Serge Bouchard/CBC

Original case in Campbellton outbreak not known

Russell said Public Health officials are still working on finding the cause of the outbreak in the Campbellton region. She said her department has done a good job finding close contacts and ensuring they're self-isolating.

"If you have been informed that you have been in contact with a confirmed case, it is very important that you self-isolate and stay isolated for 14 days," she said Wednesday.

"There are 150 people in Zone 1 and 320 people in Zone 5 who are self-isolating. It is very critical that those directed to self-isolate, do so immediately. We are working hard to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the province and self-isolation is our best tool in shortening the duration of these outbreaks."

Business recovery continues

Premier Blaine Higgs New Brunswick's economy continues "to rebound from the pandemic."

Citing numbers from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, he said that as of last week, "80 per cent of businesses in our province that closed due to the pandemic have fully reopened, up from 73 per cent in September. We want to keep this progress going.

"Supporting a strong and resilient business community is crucial to ensuring New Brunswick's economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic and grows in the longer term," he said at Wednesday's press conference.

Higgs said the province is offering loans to eligible businesses and those with existing loans may be able to defer interest and principal payments on their loans for up to six months.

Others outside Zone 5 warned of possible exposure

Meanwhile in Bathurst, parents and guardians of students at Place Des Jeunes school were told Wednesday morning that some school staff were in isolation because of a possible contact with a positive case. Bathurst is not in the same health zone as Campbellton.

On Tuesday night, the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, advised the community it had been notified by New Brunswick Public Health that a New Brunswick resident who has tested positive for COVID-19 had recently met with Listuguj residents.

The First Nation has co-ordinated with Quebec Public Health to conduct contact tracing. As a result, some community members may be contacted to determine what happens next, a community news release said.

"These next steps could include COVID-19 testing or additional protective measures."

As a result of the government's decision to suspend the mini-bubble with Quebec's Avignon region — which allowed non-essential day trips by residents of Listuguj First Nation and Pointe-à-la-Croix into New Brunswick — about 103 students who attended Sugarloaf Senior High School and three students who attend the French high school will now be on remote learning.

When schools could reopen

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says he expects the schools that have been closed for cleaning to reopen Thursday.

"The hope is that they only have one or in some cases, depending on the school, two days of of cleaning and prep before the classes, the schools open up again," Cardy told CBC News.

He said the reopening will depend on each school, but while the Campbellton region is in the orange phase, schools should be able to continue operating.

CBC
CBC

On Tuesday, the mayors of Campbellton and Dalhousie questioned whether schools should be closed for two weeks to prevent the virus from spreading further.

"If we have to go back to to the red zone, to the red phase in any region, which would mean three unrelated community transmissions, then that would also mean that we would move to online learning as well," Cardy said.

"So at the moment, we'll be doing this in a targeted way based on co-operation with Public Health. And then if there's a broader problem, then we move a whole region onto online learning."

Online learning begins

Listuguj First Nation Chief Darcy Gray said high school students will start their online learning Wednesday at a community training centre.

Staff will be on site to help, the high speed Internet is set up and Gray said, if there are any glitches, they'll be able to work through them.

"The interruption should be as minimal as possible."

CBC
CBC

Gray wasn't happy with the decision by the New Brunswick government not to allow Listuguj students to continue to attend high school in Campbellton, but said they had to move forward with setting up for online learning.

"They know where we stand. I've been reaching out from Thursday to over the weekend and the decision seems to be what it is."

Gray added with cases increasing in Campbellton, he knew the province wouldn't budge on that decision.

"It is what it is for now."

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.

  • Follow instructions.