N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 13 new cases, vaccination 'drive to 75' speeds ahead to 72%

·12 min read
The Horizon Health Network has first dose COVID-19 walk-in availability at its Saint John clinic Wednesday and Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Reuters - image credit)
The Horizon Health Network has first dose COVID-19 walk-in availability at its Saint John clinic Wednesday and Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Reuters - image credit)

New Brunswick reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and the province's vaccination "drive to 75" sped ahead, with 72.2 per cent of the eligible population now vaccinated with their first dose.

That's up from 70.8 per cent on Tuesday.

A total of 9,301 first doses were registered Tuesday, pushing the total number of New Brunswickers who have received their first dose to 500,529.

The new figure includes 1,620 residents who were previously vaccinated outside the province and are back in New Brunswick, said Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry.

Last week, the province announced it was asking snowbirds and other residents who had been vaccinated elsewhere and were back in New Brunswick to voluntarily complete a questionnaire so they could be counted toward its 75 per cent vaccination goal.

A new website has also been created for these people to voluntarily fill out.

Asked how the province is verifying the information submitted, Berry said: "Residents vaccinated out of province have self-reported and are providing copies of their immunization forms from outside the province to their local Public Health office. These are being added to New Brunswick's records."

He was unable to provide any breakdown as to the countries or provinces in which the individuals were vaccinated.

"There may be other residents who received their vaccination out of the province who have yet to come forward and self-identify," Public Health said in the news release. "As they come forward, their numbers will be added to the total," it said.

Another 19,221 people still have to get their first shot for the province to reach its 75 per cent threshold for Phase 1 of the path to green to kick in. The plan lays out a loosening of restrictions, including removing the steady-15 requirement and reopening to parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

The province was originally slated to reach the goal Monday, but Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday that will likely happen by the end of the week.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Wednesday he's confident the 75 per cent vaccination rate will be reached but shied away from setting a new target date after the province fell short of Monday's deadline with only 70.3 per cent vaccinated.
Premier Blaine Higgs said Wednesday he's confident the 75 per cent vaccination rate will be reached but shied away from setting a new target date after the province fell short of Monday's deadline with only 70.3 per cent vaccinated.(Ed Hunter/CBC)

Oliver Dueck, a software developer based in Fredericton who has been tracking the province's vaccine data for the past few months, agrees.

Although Tuesday was a "big" vaccination day and the seven-day average of first doses administered climbed to 7,571 from 7,337, Dueck still predicts the province will hit its 75 per cent target on Saturday.

Whatever day it happens, "restrictions will loosen when we have hit that magic marker," Higgs told reporters Wednesday. He expects the changes will take effect at midnight that day.

"A lot of activities" are planned in the coming days to provide easier access to vaccines for people and to help "put us over the line," he said.

The province had "different companies reach out and want to be a part of that in terms of us being more mobile in where we can go.

"So we're doing a lot of that operational stuff right now."

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said the department has been working with Public Health and the districts to make it easier for students aged 12 to 18 to get to clinics, roll up their sleeves, and get vaccinated.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said the department has been working with Public Health and the districts to make it easier for students aged 12 to 18 to get to clinics, roll up their sleeves, and get vaccinated. (Government of New Brunswick)

A vaccination clinic is scheduled in Saint John at Simonds High School on Thursday, with students aged 12 and older from Saint John High School, St. Malachy's Memorial High School and Harbour View High School expected to be bused in, according to the news release.

Busing to a Vitalité Health Network walk-in clinic in Edmundston will also be available Thursday for students 12 and older at Carrefour de la Jeunesse, École Notre-Dame and École Saint-Jacques.

On Wednesday, busing to a Vitalité walk-in clinic in Bathurst was available for students at Bathurst High School, École secondaire Nepisiguit and École Place des jeunes.

"Our students, teachers and school staff are all anxious for a school year with more freedom to socialize, more extracurricular activities and more sports," Education Minister Dominic Cardy said in a statement.

"Part of planning for a healthy and safe return to normal in September means having as many students and staff as possible fully vaccinated."

He is encouraging families to get their consent forms signed and "ready to go."

People can book a first dose appointment online through a Horizon or Vitalité Health Network clinic or by contacting a participating pharmacy.

Second doses can now be booked for anyone who was vaccinated prior to April 1.

105 active cases

New Brunswick has 105 active cases of COVID-19, Public Health said Wednesday.

Three people are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including one in an intensive care unit. Another person is hospitalized out of province in an intensive care unit.

The 13 new cases of COVID-19 announced Wednesday put the province's total active cases at 105.
The 13 new cases of COVID-19 announced Wednesday put the province's total active cases at 105.(CBC)

The 13 new cases Wednesday were reported in five zones.

Moncton region, Zone 1, two new cases:

  • A person 40-49

  • A person 50-59

Both are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Fredericton region, Zone 3, six new cases:

  • Two people 19 or under

  • Three people 20-29

  • A person 60-69

Four cases are under investigation and the other two are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Edmundston region, Zone 4, one new case:

  • A person 19 or under

This case is under investigation.

Bathurst region, Zone 6, three new cases:

  • A person 19 or under

  • Two people 60-69

Two of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and the other case is under investigation.

Miramichi region, Zone 7, one new case:

  • A person 50-59

This case is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

Since the pandemic started, New Brunswick has had 2,280 confirmed cases, 2,130 recoveries and 44 COVID-related deaths.

A total of 346,480 tests have been completed, including 1,167 on Tuesday.

Outbreak declared at Oromocto apartment building

Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at an apartment building in Oromocto.

Eleven positive cases have now been linked to the Vida Living building at 100 Lanark St., Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane confirmed Wednesday.

Residents were first notified of three positive cases in the building on June 2, according to a letter obtained by CBC News.

"To control the spread and detect other cases, Public Health is strongly advising that all tenants be tested as soon as possible," the letter states, noting that testing would be offered on-site on June 3.

Public Health's decision to declare the outbreak came after CBC asked about the situation.

Macfarlane said "a myriad of contributing factors are considered whenever, and if, an outbreak is declared."

"In general, an outbreak will be declared when the source of virus transmission is occurring in a defined setting (building or facility), not readily confined (for example, but closing the building or business) and the risk of transmission is ongoing," he said in an emailed statement.

There have been 11 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 linked to the Vida Living apartment building in Oromocto.
There have been 11 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 linked to the Vida Living apartment building in Oromocto.(Google Street View)

Declaring an outbreak means that more specific Public Health measures will be imposed to various degrees in order to slow and control the spread of COVID-19 in that location.

In this instance, "cases and close contacts were directed by Public Health to self-isolate, other tenants were directed to minimize their contacts and movements and provided with regular testing," Macfarlane said.

"Direction varies on an individual basis, determined by a team of Public Health professionals according to the respective levels of risk and contact with cases," he said.

A public exposure notice for the building was posted on the province's website on June 1, said Macfarlane.

There are now eight listings for the building between May 26 and June 1, and a number of other exposure locations in Oromocto.

Macfarlane declined to say which strain of COVID is involved in the Vida Living outbreak, citing privacy. But he did say all recent cases of COVID-19 in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, have been the highly contagious variant first identified in India, recently renamed Delta by the World Health Organization.

The building has been deep-cleaned and there is an ongoing investigation regarding the source, "including possible air circulation and surface transmission components," said Macfarlane.

Vida Living officials did not respond to a request for comment.

COVID-19 testing in Nackawic

A temporary, outdoor COVID-19 testing clinic in Nackawic has been extended in response to recent possible public exposures in the area, Public Health announced Wednesday.

The clinic is located in the parking lot of the Horizon Health Network's Nackawic Health Centre, at 135 Otis Dr.

It will operate by appointment only and will be open Thursday and Friday, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Appointments are available at the temporary COVID-19 testing clinic in Nackawic on Thursday and Friday.
Appointments are available at the temporary COVID-19 testing clinic in Nackawic on Thursday and Friday.(Horizon Health Network/Twitter)

Anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus, or anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure in the region, is urged to request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 for an appointment. When requesting a test online, they should select "Nackawic" as their preferred site, or when calling, they should indicate they wish to be tested at the temporary site in Nackawic.

Horizon announced the pop-up clinic last Wednesday. At that time, it was only expected to operate until last Sunday.

Two positive cases have been confirmed at Nackawic Senior High School, Public Health announced Monday.

Students continue to learn from home this week and have been directed to limit their movements 'to essential outings only."

University sport in Atlantic region to resume in fall

Atlantic University Sport plans to return to a full season, starting in September.

The 2020-21 regular season competition and championships were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We couldn't be happier to announce our intention to return to sport this fall," AUS executive director Phil Currie said in a news release Wednesday.

"This will obviously be contingent upon the most up-to-date public health directives, but we are optimistic that things will continue to go in the right direction, and that our student-athletes will be back on the field of play this fall."

The football schedule, which normally begins in August, will be modified to begin in September, at the same time as soccer, rugby and cross country competition.

St. Thomas University Women's Hockey team won their first Atlantic Sport University championship in 2019.
St. Thomas University Women's Hockey team won their first Atlantic Sport University championship in 2019.(SRM Photography/Submitted)

Winter sports are expected to follow similar timelines to previous seasons, according to the release.

The AUS intends to release the 2021-22 schedules and fall and winter championship dates and hosts next week.

"While we acknowledge this season likely won't look identical to pre-pandemic years, we all hope 2021-22 will look a lot more like the 2019-20 season than 2020-21," University of New Brunswick director of athletics John Richard — AUS president and chair of the AUS return to play committee said in a statement.

Any planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of COVID-19 in any relevant region, the release said.

Atlantic COVID roundup

Nova Scotia reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday for a total of 164 active cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed three new cases, putting the total active cases at 53.

Prince Edward Island has no new cases to report so far, and had five active cases as of the last report, late Monday.

New public exposures

Public Health has identified potential public exposures to the coronavirus in the Fredericton region, Zone 3:

  • Big Axe Brewery and food truck, 537 Otis Dr., Nackawic, June 4, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

  • Boston Pizza, 1230 Propsect St., Fredericton, June 2, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

  • Burger King, 570 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton, June 2 between noon and 2 p.m.

Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811.

People experiencing one or more symptoms are also encouraged to get tested.

Previous public exposures

Public Health on Tuesday identified the following potential public exposures to the coronavirus in the Fredericton region, Zone 3:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1198 Onondaga St, Oromocto, June 1, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Atlantic Superstore, 1150 Onondaga St, Oromocto, June 1 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Public Health has identified numerous other potential public exposures to the coronavirus in many communities across the province, so many that it has stopped listing them individually in its daily news release.

A detailed list of the potential exposures, including the locations and dates, is available on the government's COVID-19 website. It is updated regularly.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:

  • Fever above 38 C.

  • New cough or worsening chronic cough.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

  • 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.