N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Edmundston to enter lockdown, high school return delayed

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The Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska regions will enter lockdown restrictions Saturday night. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska regions will enter lockdown restrictions Saturday night. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Parts of northwestern New Brunswick will go into lockdown in response to a surge in cases of COVID-19.

The Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska areas will be placed under the tighter restrictions effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell urged residents of the region to stay home and said an effort is being made to send more vaccine to the area.

"The new variants of COVID-19 have changed the course of this pandemic," she said.

Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls will remain under the Red level. The Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions will remain in the Yellow level.

Public Health is reporting 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with 15 in the Edmundston region. The other four cases are spread out across the Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John regions.

The province also reported its 33rd death from COVID-19, an individual in their 70s in Zone 4.

Twenty patients are hospitalized in the province, including 13 in intensive care. Most are at the Edmundston Regional Hospital, which was forced to redirect admissions after reaching capacity this week.

High school delay

New Brunswick is reversing a controversial decision to send students back to high school full-time on Monday.

New Brunswick's teachers' union has been calling on the province to delay full-time, in-person classes that are expected to resume on Monday. Zone 4 is not included under the red phase.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced plans to delay the return across the province as a "precaution."

"We need to be quite confident that we're not contributing to the problem, and this gives us time to watch the cases," she said.

École Saint-Jacques in Edmundston reported two cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
École Saint-Jacques in Edmundston reported two cases of COVID-19 on Friday. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada)

High school students have been following an alternate-day system since September, aiming at reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. On days where they are not present in-person, students have been learning virtually from home.

Vaccine clinics were held at schools in preparation of the change, offering the shot to teachers and school staff. But some educators and parents criticized the decision.

Zone 4 was not expected to follow the change.

The update comes as hundreds of households in the Edmundston area are self-isolating after a school confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K.

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École Saint-Jacques confirmed two cases on Friday.

The District Scolaire francophone du Nord-Ouest told all students, staff and anyone they live with to self-isolate until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. There are about 300 students at the elementary school.

The self-isolation directive applies to anyone who was at the school April 6-8.

Family members are asked to remain in their homes over the weekend while contact tracing is underway.

Public Health will reach out directly to close contacts.

Hundreds of families are self-isolating after two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at École Saint-Jacques in Edmundston.
Hundreds of families are self-isolating after two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at École Saint-Jacques in Edmundston.(Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada)

École Saint-Jacques will move to virtual learning on Monday and Tuesday. Classes are expected to resume in person on Thursday, after a previously scheduled day off. A childcare facility within the school will also close on both days.

A case was also confirmed at an Edmundston daycare on Friday.

With the rise in cases, the Edmundston hospital has been forced to restrict admissions and redirect patients to other facilities.

Variants prompt lockdown

New Brunswick's hardest-hit region is returning to a lockdown for the second time this year.

Under those measures, all non-essential businesses in the region must close. People must continue to maintain a single-household bubble and non-essential travel in or out of the area is not permitted.

Schools in the area will move entirely to virtual learning.

The Edmundston region is continuing a series of large-scale vaccine clinics and is expected to be prioritized for additional doses in the coming weeks.

There have been 16 cases of transmission of COVID-19 variants in Zone 4.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she is concerned about the presence of variants of COVID-19.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she is concerned about the presence of variants of COVID-19.(Government of New Brunswick)

Russell said every COVID-19 case is now being treated as a highly contagious variant moving forward.

She said three vaccinated people are currently in hospital. One person was fully vaccinated with two doses and more than two weeks had passed, one person had not passed 14 days, and another had only received one dose.

Health officials are closely monitoring the Saint John and Moncton regions as areas of concern for the variant.

More than 200 people in Saint John are currently self-isolating after possible exposure at a church service.

Russell would not specify which presumptive variant is involved until lab results return in the next few days.

148 active cases

New Brunswick now has 148 total active cases.

The new cases on Saturday are as follows:

In the Edmundston and Grand Falls region (Zone 4), there are 15 new cases. Public Health said 15 are contacts of previous cases, and the other three are under investigation:

  • Three people 19 and under.

  • Two people in their 20s.

  • Two people in their 40s.

  • Three people in their 50s.

  • Four people in their 60s.

  • A person in their 70s.

The Fredericton region (Zone 3) is reporting two new cases:

  • Two people in their 30s, both travel-related.

The Saint John region (Zone 2) has one new case:

  • A person 19 and under, travel-related.

In the Moncton region (Zone 1), there is one new case:

<cite>(CBC News)</cite>
(CBC News)

New Brunswick has confirmed 1,713 total cases, including 1,531 recoveries.

There have been 33 deaths.

Public Health conducted 1,386 tests on Friday, for a total of 266,621.

Possible exposure in Saint John

Public Health has identified possible public exposure to the virus at the following locations in Saint John:

  • Thursday, April 8 between 1:15-2 p.m. – Service New Brunswick, 15 King Square North.

  • Friday, April 9 between 5-6 p.m. and Thursday, April 8 between noon-1 p.m. – McAllister Place, 519 Westmorland Rd.

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.