Public Health reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday and announced more than a quarter of eligible New Brunswickers are now fully vaccinated.
A total of 13,208 second doses were administered Thursday, making it another record-breaking day.
The previous single-day record for second shots was 12,457 on Wednesday.
Thursday's numbers pushed the two-dose vaccination rate among New Brunswickers aged 12 and older to 25.2 per cent.
The goal is to have 75 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day, to reach the green phase of recovery and lift all Public Health restrictions.
Another 1,811 first doses were also administered. That's up from 1,535 on Wednesday, 391 on Tuesday and 361 on Monday.
A total of 77 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have now received at least one dose.
Earlier this week, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she was "very concerned" about first-dose uptake.
With the highly contagious Delta variant, the people who end up having severe symptoms and require hospitalization are mostly those who have not been vaccinated, she said.
"So whatever we can do to improve vaccination rates and uptake for first doses, we do want to focus on."
Delta variant could trigger national resurgence
The Public Health Agency of Canada warned Friday the Delta variant could make a possible fourth wave of the pandemic in Canada this fall worse than originally thought if it becomes the dominant strain.
The Delta variant has triggered a resurgence in other countries such as the U.K., where reopening plans were recently delayed by four weeks.
Between April 25 and May 23, Canada saw a fourfold increase in the proportion of Delta cases, with the majority of them being found in unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated people, a modelling presentation by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam showed.
"With the Delta variant, I think our bottom line is to get [vaccination rates] as high as possible, as much as we can get past that 75 per cent goal post for both first and second doses," Tam said.
At least 80 per cent of the eligible population will have to be double-dosed before protective measures are fully lifted if it becomes the dominant strain, she said.
Reasons people aren't vaccinated
New Brunswick has held a focus group and conducted some surveys to better understand why people aren't getting vaccinated and determine what it can do to help change that, said Russell.
The information gathered points to some people feeling they're not at risk of contracting COVID-19, while others "aren't quite convinced" there was enough research done on vaccines, or they're afraid of the side-effects, she said.
Women of child-bearing age, in particular, have concerns about being pregnant or getting pregnant and "having the vaccination interfere with any component of that or putting their unborn child at risk," Russell said.
"So we have to be cognizant of why people are not getting vaccinated and be able to target our messaging around that and helping people get the information that they need to be more comfortable coming forward to get a vaccine."
Public Health is working with government communications staff on that, Russell said.
"There's more work to be done there. So it is on our radar and we are working on it collectively right now."
She encourages people who won't get vaccinated for themselves to do it for their friends and colleagues and community members.
"Vaccination is the straight path to a more normal summer. It is the straight path to removing remaining restrictions that have been placed on our lives. It is the path to green."
People are eligible for a second dose once at least 28 days have passed since their first dose.
They are asked to bring a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose, a signed consent form and their medicare card.
Hugs OK for double-dosers
The Public Health Agency of Canada released guidelines Friday outlining what people can safely do, based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.
For example, it says those who are fully vaccinated, having received their second dose more than 14 days ago, can hug each other.
They can also have dinner indoors or watch TV with a small group of friends who are also fully vaccinated, without worrying about a mask or getting too close.
People without both doses "can consider removing [their] mask and being physically close to the fully vaccinated individuals if everyone is comfortable with that, AND nobody is at risk of more severe disease or outcomes," PHAC said.
If fully vaccinated people who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes go places, such as a church or gym, where they're unsure if other people have been vaccinated, they can consider wearing a mask and maintain physical distancing.
They should also keep the windows and doors open, if possible, and follow the measures put in place by the owner or organizer to reduce the risk of COVID-19, the agency said.
When in a large crowd where people are closely gathering, such as a house party or concert, people who are fully vaccinated might want to consider wearing a mask if they're indoors, even if they don't have underlying conditions.
"You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g., workplaces, public transit)," PHAC stressed. "Their advice considers community risk levels."
38 active cases
New Brunswick has 38 active cases of COVID-19.
The one new case announced Friday is a person in their 30s in the Bathurst region, Zone 6. The case is travel-related.
Four people are hospitalized in the province, including one in intensive care.
A total of 359,801 tests have been conducted, including 503 on Thursday.
New Brunswick has had 2,323 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 2,239 recoveries so far and 45 COVID-related deaths.
Church exposure was during immunization clinic
A COVID-19 public exposure at a church hall in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, occurred during an immunization clinic, the Department of Health has confirmed.
Holy Rosary Church Hall at 26 Father Dysart Lane in Minto was added to the public exposure notices on June 19.
The exposure occurred on June 15, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., when the site was used as a location for an immunization clinic, said Gail Harding.
A 12-day public exposure notice issued for another church in the village of roughly 2,300 people was because of "several exposure events with the church venue in use for multiple purposes with some positive cases identified," she said.
The notice for Pentecostal Gospel Lighthouse Church, at 283 Slope Rd., is for between June 6 and June 18.
"Given the potential for surface transmission, and out of an abundance of caution, it was considered appropriate to provide a broad range of dates," Harding said in an emailed statement.
In a follow-up email, she said the exposure "involved a service." Public Health officials are now working with the church to "enhance" its COVID operational plan, she said, without elaborating.
Harding declined to say how many positive cases have now been confirmed at the two churches.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic Public Health has always taken a balanced approach when sharing information with the public, by providing sufficient information for the public to be able to protect themselves and others while at the same time protecting every individual from being blamed or stigmatized.
"The rule followed by Public Health is to restrict the release of case information to gender, age and health zone. This can and does change based on each situation. In this instance, we cannot confirm the number of cases at this time."
She did say record-keeping was able to confirm anyone who may have been exposed, and Public Health was able to contact these individuals directly. A total of nine people were advised to isolate.
Asked why the public exposure notice was issued if record-keeping was able to identify anyone potentially exposed, Harding said it was "out of an abundance of caution, and due to the multipurpose event function churches often provide in the communities they serve."
Church officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The province now has 60 active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases, and has seven active cases.
Prince Edward Island has reported no new cases since June 3, and has no active cases.
Latest public exposures
Public Health has identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights:
Air Canada Flight 404 – from Toronto to Montreal, departed at 8:30 a.m. on June 18.
Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 12:45 p.m. on June 18.
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 has identified numerous 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.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
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.