New Brunswick reported its 42nd COVID-related death Tuesday and announced vaccines are now available to people aged 18 and over.
Ten new cases of COVID have been confirmed in the province, nine of them in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, which is already struggling with positive cases at a former designated isolation hotel, a hospital, three schools and a newly confirmed case at a child-care facility.
There are now 46 active cases in the Fredericton region — a third of the province's active cases, said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Public Health has also detected a new COVID variant circulating in the region, Russell said.
Although some of the cases involve the highly contagious variant of concern first reported in India, some of the new cases that are travel-related are not connected to that cluster, the province's top doctor told the COVID briefing.
"Sequencing has found them to be a different variant," she said, without identifying which one.
Public Health continues to monitor the region closely, Russell said.
"We have seen some encouraging signs thus far. To date, we have no hospitalizations in the Fredericton area due to COVID and almost all of the infections we have identified appear to be linked to existing cases," she said.
"However, the situation can change literally overnight."
Another 16 new public exposure notices have also been issued for Fredericton, adding to an already lengthy list, and 871 people across the province are isolating, including staff of the Delta hotel and Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Fredericton and their families.
The province will not hesitate to impose new restrictions on public movement to slow the spread of this coronavirus, if necessary, Russell said.
Public Health discussed the issue Tuesday morning. Officials meet twice daily with other partners to discuss risks and triggers for moving to stricter COVID alert levels.
"If we have any recommendations, then you'll hear about those," Russell said.
There is a cluster of 25 cases of COVID-19 now linked to the Delta Fredericton, including at least one employee. Although Public Health has not declared the situation an outbreak, it has put in processes similar to those used by the Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Team (PROMT) in long-term care facility outbreaks.
Public Health is hopeful it can contain the cluster, "but many public exposures in multiple settings make this very challenging," said Russell.
Thirty-nine Horizon Health Network employees in the Fredericton area are off work Tuesday because of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation and Veterans Health Unit. The outbreak was declared last Thursday after a health-care worker at the Chalmers hospital tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern.
Although Russell said there are no hospitalizations in the Fredericton area due to COVID, the Horizon Health Network lists two COVID patients at the Chalmers hospital Tuesday, including one in ICU. When asked to clarify, Department of Health spokesperson Gail Harding said Russell was referring to the active cases in the region.
A third case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton, but Public Health has found no in-school transmission, stressed Education Minister Dominic Cardy. "And remember that all close contacts will be contacted by Public Health directly. … As usual, no news is good news."
Meanwhile, a positive case has been confirmed at New Maryland Elementary School after families were assured Friday by David McTimoney, superintendent of the Anglophone West School district, that a potential exposure identified at the school last Wednesday had been deemed no longer a risk.
Asked about the change, the chief medical officer of health said: "When there are outbreaks or cases linked to school settings, we test the staff, we test close contacts, et cetera. And as you know, those tests are a snapshot in time. And so somebody could test negative and then test positive within that 14 day period after exposure. So in this particular case, that is what has happened."
A "significant portion" of the staff and students of the school, along with their families have been told the isolate until Thursday at 11:59 p.m., said Cardy.
"This is out of an abundance of caution. Certainly in the last phase of this battle, we do not want to let our guard down," he said.
"We know these situations are stressful. We know they cause anxiety. I want to thank everyone for their ongoing co-operation and their adherence to Public Health advice."
There was no school Tuesday and students will learn from home Wednesday and Thursday, he said.
Nashwaaksis Middle School also has one confirmed case and Cardy announced a case has now been confirmed at New Maryland Kidz Klub. The affected families have been notified and the child-care facility will be closed for the next three days, he said.
There is also a lengthy list of potential public exposures to the coronavirus that range from restaurants and skate parks to hardware stores and massage clinics.
Russell encouraged people to check the exposure list on the government's website daily. "We do find cases this way. So it is really helpful," she said.
Anyone who has been at one of the locations at the times indicated should also seek testing as quickly as possible, said Russell. "The sooner we can identify and isolate new cases, the sooner we can limit the spread of any new outbreaks."
121 active cases
There are now 121 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick.
Of the 10 new cases announced Tuesday, the breakdown is as follows:
Fredericton region, Zone 3, nine cases:
Two people 20-29.
Two people 30-39.
Two people 40-49.
A person 50-59.
A person 60-69.
A person 70-79.
Five cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, two are related to travel and the remaining two are under investigation.
Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case:
A person 40-49.
This case is related to travel.
Five patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in an intensive care unit. Another four patients are hospitalized out of province, with one in an intensive care unit.
New Brunswick has had 2,083 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 1,919 recoveries.
A total 316,499 COVID tests have been conducted, including 1,385 on Monday.
As of Tuesday, 330,100 New Brunswickers have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. That's 47.6 per cent of the eligible population, aged 12 or older.
Half of population to have 1st dose by end of week
New Brunswick is setting and breaking records each week for the number of appointments booked and vaccines administered, according to the province's chief medical officer of health.
With eligibility now opened up to include people 18 or older, Russell expects at least 50 per cent of the population will have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by the end of the week.
She called the expansion very good news, but urged everyone to continue to be vigilant and follow Public Health measures. "This applies equally for the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated," she said.
If an eligible individual, or a caregiver or family member acting on their behalf, is unable to book an appointment at a clinic online, they may call 1-833-437-1424.
The education minister said the province hopes to lower the eligibility age even further in the coming days. His department is working with Public Health on a vaccine rollout plan for those 12 or older.
School-based clinics might not be possible, he said, because of the logistics involved with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only one approved by the federal government for youth.
"The Pfizer vaccine does not last for very long outside of very, very cold, deep freezers. And those are already in not great supply across the province," Cardy said. The province doesn't want to risk wasting doses, he said.
That would be "one of the worst things that can happen right now as we try to get everyone vaccinated before the variants take hold."
Officials will come up with the best way to get the shots to the students or the students to the shots, Cardy said.
"Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible for families," he said. "By working together and getting vaccinated as soon as we can, we can help keep our schools healthy and safe as we get ready for a new year."
6th COVID death at special care home
A person in their 70s in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, has died "as a result of COVID-19," the province's chief medical officer of health announced Tuesday.
The person was a resident at Pavillon Beau-Lieu special care home in Grand Falls, where there's an outbreak, and died at the Edmundston Regional Hospital, said Russell.
"It will never be easy to report on these events," she said. "Each New Brunswicker we have lost has a family, friends and loved ones who cherish them. And we all share in your sorrow and grief."
The latest death is the sixth at Pavillon Beau-Lieu in recent weeks.
The outbreak, which involves the COVID variant first found in South Africa, was declared on April 21 after one case of COVID-19 was confirmed.
A total of 38 residents and 15 staff at the 60-bed facility have tested positive, Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said Tuesday.
Of the five other residents who died, four had received at least one dose of vaccine, and one of them had both doses, the Macfarlane had previously confirmed.
Magee House residents released from isolation
People made to isolate at the University of New Brunswick residence Magee House because of a COVID-19 outbreak were all released on Sunday.
Russell confirmed Tuesday the "handful" of people who were isolating after an outbreak are no longer required to isolate at the residence in Fredericton.
The outbreak involving the highly contagious COVID variant first recorded in India was declared at the apartment-style dorm on April 27. Public Health officials detected six cases at the 101-unit building. Since then, at least 13 cases were linked to the outbreak.
Residents previously told CBC they first heard from public health officials about a positive case on April 22.
Russell previously said "there was a teeny tiny chance that there could have been some cross-contamination with one particular component" of the ventilation system.
"Surfaces definitely were the cause, based on all the investigations around the ventilation system, et cetera, and in questioning the cases, et cetera," she told CBC News.
As a result, the system was shut off April 27 and won't be turned back on "until we give the go-ahead."
Public Health officials believe surfaces in the elevator were the source of transmission in the outbreak, Russell previously said. The seven-storey building houses 130 people, most of them mature students, some of whom live there with their families.
Public Health urges people to 'stick closer to home'
Russell is urging residents in the Fredericton area to "stick closer to home" if they can.
This comes after a surge of new cases in the region, some of which involve the India variant.
"At this moment we're OK, but that could change," Russell said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
She is urging people to think about their comings and goings and provide accurate information in case Public Health needs to contact residents for contact tracing.
"Really keep track of where you're going," she said.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported 90 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. The province has 103 people in hospital, including 25 in intensive care, and 1,345 active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed six new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 83 active cases.
Prince Edward Island has two new unrelated cases, both linked to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The province has 10 active cases.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has said he remains hopeful the Atlantic bubble can reopen by July 1. The bubble allows travel among the four Atlantic provinces without the need to self-isolate.
Latest public exposures
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the coronavirus at the following locations and dates in Fredericton:
Tony Pepperoni, 510 Brookside Dr., on May 11, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Drome, 301 Main St., on May 11, between 8:45 p.m. and 11 p.m.
NB Power, 515 King St., on May 12, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sobeys Fast Fuel, 530 Brookside Dr., on May 12, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 12, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and May 13, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Giant Tiger, 1160 Smythe St., on May 13, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Scholten's, 325 Sunset Dr., on May 13, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
McMath Law Office, 406 Regent St., on May 14, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Fredericton Mitsubishi, 327 St. Mary's St., on May 14, between 10:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Abbey Café, 546 Queen St., on May 14, between noon and 12:30 p.m.
Scotiabank, 490 King St., on May 14, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., on May 14, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Cannon's Cross Pub, 15 Riverside Dr., on May 14, between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, 665 George St., on May 15 between 10 a.m. and noon
Moores Clothing, 1150 Prospect St., on May 15, between 11 a.m. and noon.
Home Depot, 1450 Regent St., on May 15, between noon and 1 p.m.
Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even it they're not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 to book an appointment.
Previous public exposures
Montana's, 6 Trinity Ave., on May 2, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Wolastoq Wharf, 527 Union St., on May 9, between noon and 2:30 p.m.
McDonald's Restaurant, 1177 Prospect St., on May 14, between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the Pickle Jar Restaurant, 620 Queen St., from May 11 to May 16
Kubbyhole Craft Shop, 1879 Route 3, on May 7, between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Cal's Independent Grocer, 135 Otis Dr., on May 14, between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the virus at the following location and date in Edmundston:
Jean Coutu, 177 Victoria St., on May 15, between noon and 1 p.m.
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights:
Air Canada Flight 314 – from Vancouver to Montreal, departed at 11:24 p.m. on May 11.
Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:06 p.m. on May 12.
The province has also listed another flight with a passenger who has tested positive for COVID-19 on May 7.
Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11 a.m.
Other exposure notifications
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on May 6 while on the following flights:
Air Canada Flight 396 – from Edmonton to Toronto, departed at 6:50 a.m.
Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:43 p.m.
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on May 10 while on the following flight.
Air Canada Flight 8946 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:47 p.m.
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the coronavirus at the following locations and dates in the following regions:
Pumphouse, 5 Orange Ln., Moncton, on May 4 between 8 and 10 p.m.
Staples, 233 Main St., Moncton, on May 5, between noon and 8 p.m.
Walmart Supercentre, 477 Paul St., Dieppe, on May 6, between 7 and 10 p.m.
Greco Pizza, 311 Acadie Blvd., Dieppe, on May 7, between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Greco Pizza, 120 Killam Dr., Moncton, on May 5, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., May 3, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., and May 2, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Greco Pizza, 311 Acadie Blvd., Dieppe, on May 4, between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency department, 330 Université Ave., Moncton, on May 7, between 2-9:30 p.m., and May 6, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Saint John region:
Foodland, 1 Market Sq., Quispamsis, on May 3, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Circle K, 309 River Valley Dr., Grand Bay-Westfield, between 11:30 p.m. on Friday, May 7, and 1 a.m. on Saturday, May 8.
My Home Consignment, 5 Acorn St., Fredericton — May 8 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., May 7 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., May 6 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and May 5 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton, — May 8 between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Lunar Rogue, 625 King Ave., Fredericton — April 28 between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Fix Auto, 156 Greenview Dr., Hanwell — May 6 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., April 30 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., April 29 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and April 28 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Lunar Rogue, 625 King St., Fredericton, on April 28, between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Fix Auto, 156 Greenview Dr., Hanwell, on May 6, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., April 30, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., April 29, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and April 28, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
McDonald's Restaurant, 1177 Prospect St., on May 5, at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
McDonald's Restaurant in Walmart, 125 Two Nations Crossing, on May 6, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Brainfix Clinic, 56 Avonlea Crt., on May 6.
Adica Massage Clinic, 152 King St., on May 6.
Williams Chiropractic, 169 Main St., on May 6.
Simms Home Hardware Building Centre, 190 King St., on May 6.
Costco Gas Bar, 5 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 6.
Massage Experts, 169 Dundonald St., on May 6, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on May 7, from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12.
STMR. 36 Restaurant – Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12.
Jack's Pizza, 379 King St., on May 7, at 1 p.m.
Mitch Clarke Skate Park, 116 Johnston Ave., on May 7, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Garrison Skatepark, York Street parking lot, on May 7, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
James Joyce Pub, 659 Queen St., on May 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
McDonald's Restaurant, 94 Main St., on May 7, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and May 8, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Princess Auto, 21 Trinity Ave., on May 8, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Fredericton Public Library, 12 Carleton St., on May 8, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Northside Market, 170 Main St., on May 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Irving Oil, 181 King St., on May 9, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Dollarama, 5 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 2 p.m.
NB Liquor, 18 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 5 p.m.
Home Sense, 18 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 5 p.m.
Tim Hortons drive-thru, Regent Street, on May 10, at 1:30 p.m.
Atlantic Superstore, 471 Smythe St, on May 10, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and May 11, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, 700 Priestman St., on May 10-11.
Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, 800 Priestman St., on May 10-11.
Veterans Health Unit, 680 Priestman St., on May 10-11.
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., on May 11, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Scott's Nursery, 2192 Route 102, on May 8, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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.