All New Brunswickers aged 12 or older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, the province announced Wednesday, along with a confirmed case of community transmission in the Fredericton region, Zone 3.
Youth aged 12 to 17 can now receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a Horizon or Vitalité Health Network clinic, or through a participating pharmacy, said Education Minister Dominic Cardy.
Those aged 16 or 17 can book their own appointment and provide their own consent, he said, but parents or guardians must act on behalf of the younger children.
School districts will send out information in the coming days to help guide people through the registration and vaccination process, Cardy said.
Vaccination clinics will not be offered in schools for logistical reasons, he told the COVID briefing.
The province has no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students to attend school next fall, the minister said.
"We've seen a lot of support with the vaccination program … and I hope that is going to continue in the same vein and that the question of doing something compulsory is going to be irrelevant due to the fact that the majority of our population supports the vaccination system and have received the vaccines to protect not only themselves but their communities and their families."
The province's goal is to see at least 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers inoculated with two doses to protect others who aren't immunized, also known as herd immunity.
Cardy said he understands some people are concerned that children under 12 still aren't approved to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.
"Hopefully that's going to change as the science around the vaccines accelerates," he said, urging those who are eligible to get vaccinated.
"The sooner that our population is vaccinated …the sooner we can return to normal."
"We all want schools to be able to return in September with the same openness for sports and activities, friendship and togetherness, an end to distancing, an end to masks, an end to the restrictions that we're all fed up with. And getting vaccinated is an important step towards us achieving that goal."
As of Wednesday, 393,887 New Brunswickers have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the government's dashboard. That's 56.8 per cent of the eligible population, aged 12 and above.
People 18 or older have been eligible for the vaccine since May 18.
Children aged 12 to 15 who have a complex medical condition or two or more chronic conditions were also eligible earlier this month.
While the province remains focused on getting a first shot into as many New Brunswickers as possible as quickly as possible, it is moving ahead with second doses for priority groups, said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Second-dose clinics for all nursing homes and special-care homes are expected to conclude later this week, she said.
"I'm sure that this will be a relief to residents and their families, knowing that they have the maximum level of protection against COVID-19."
To date, 68.8 per cent of long-term care residents and 45.5 per cent of long-term care staff have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
As the province's vaccination rates rise, the number of infections is expected to decrease, and fewer people will become seriously ill, said Russell. Outbreaks will be smaller and easier to control.
"The threat will not disappear entirely, but we will be able to live with it," she said, and restrictions should ease.
For now, people must continue to follow Public Health measures that help limit the spread of the virus, such as regular and thorough hand washing, maintaining a physical distance of two metres, wearing a mask and staying home if they feel unwell.
"Getting New Brunswick to the green alert level, and our recovery plan will take longer and be more difficult if we fail to keep on the path that we are on."
10 new cases
New Brunswick reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including four in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, which has been struggling with a series of outbreaks and public exposures.
The chief medical officer of health also announced a confirmed case of community transmission in the region, which she described as "concerning."
Public Health has been unable to trace the case to any other cases in the region, and believes it is a different strain, Dr. Jennifer Russell told the COVID briefing.
The highly contagious variant of concern first reported in India, also known at B1617, and variant of concern first reported in the U.K., B117, are both circulating in the region.
"I'm not sure whether it's actually the B1617 or a different variant. I'm not talking the variant here. I'm just talking that it's a different genetic sequence than whatever is circulating currently," she said.
Russell said she had no information about close contacts yet, only that it's not linked to the original "cluster" at the former isolation hotel, Delta Fredericton.
That cluster has reached "upwards of at least 75, if not more cases by now," she said.
That's up from the 66 cases reported Tuesday, when Russell confirmed the outbreak in the Fredericton region stems from the Delta.
Russell declined to divulge whether the index case was an isolating guest, an employee or another guest, citing confidentiality. Government officials have previously said they did not have that information.
Twelve cases were directly linked to the index case, said Russell. "They were either guests or patrons or staff."
Those 12 subsequently transmitted to close contacts, including household members, she said.
New Brunswick now has 134 active cases of the respiratory disease and more than 1,100 people are self-isolating.
Five people are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including one in intensive care. One New Brunswicker is hospitalized out of province in an intensive care unit.
The breakdown of the new cases is as follows:
Moncton region, Zone 1, six cases:
Two people 19 or under
Three people 20-29
A person 90 or over
All six cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, four cases:
A person 19 or under
A person 20-29
Two people 40-49
Three cases are contacts of a previously confirmed case. One case is related to travel and the individual is out of province.
New Brunswick has had 2,163 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 1,985 recoveries so far and 43 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 327,630 tests have been conducted, including 1,772 on Tuesday.
Some students at 2 Fredericton schools may have been exposed on bus
Parents of some Fredericton students have been advised of another possible exposure to COVID-19, this time on a school bus.
The latest notice, sent Tuesday night by Anglophone West School District superintendent David McTimoney, applies to bus 210, which was carrying students to Fredericton High School and George Street Middle School, on the mornings of May 18-21.
These students and all members of their household are required to self-isolate until midnight Saturday night, and self-monitor for symptoms for the next 14 days, Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer of health and acting regional medical officer of health for the central region, instructed in an attached letter.
A total of 115 students and their households received the notice, according to Education Minister Dominic Cardy.
They must remain in their home and keep two metres from other people as much as possible, said Muecke.
If possible, they should avoid taking any medication that could hide COVID symptoms or a fever, such as ibuprofen, often sold as Advil, and acetaminophen, often sold as Tylenol.
Students and their families are also strongly encouraged to get tested, Muecke said.
Possible exposure notices have been issued for at least seven Fredericton schools in recent weeks: George Street Middle School, Leo Hayes High School, Nashwaaksis Middle School, New Maryland Elementary School, Fredericton Christian Academy, Connaught Street School, and Priestman Street Elementary School.
Public Health evaluates each situation and undertakes "calculated risk assessments" to determine the best course of action, said Cardy.
"We know that school is incredibly important for our students and we want to make sure that we can, to the greatest extent possible, minimize the disruption to the day-to-day lives of our students."
So far, this system has proven very successful, Cardy said. He noted 48 schools have lost just 28 days of classes this year, which he described as a record "unparalleled in most of the world." He credited school, district and Public Health staff with minimizing the impact of COVID, and students and their families with doing "the right thing."
UNB Magee House outbreak declared over
The COVID-19 outbreak at Magee House, an apartment-style residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, has been officially declared over, Public Health announced Wednesday.
Staff and residents of Magee House were retested several times to confirm the end of the outbreak, according to a news release.
The outbreak was declared on April 26 after six cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the 101-unit building designed for mature students, some of whom have families.
At least 13 cases were linked to the outbreak, which involved the variant of concern first reported in India.
Public Health officials believe surfaces in the elevator of the seven-storey building were the source of transmission, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has previously said
The final residents were released from isolation on May 16.
As recently as Tuesday, patients being screened at the Saint John Regional Hospital were being asked if they had visited UNB in the past five weeks.
Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer of health, declared the outbreak over.
New public exposures
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the virus at the following locations and dates:
Moncton region, Zone 1:
Moxie's Grill and Bar, 10 Wyse St., Moncton, on May 21 between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 170 St. George Blvd., Moncton, on May 21 between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and May 23 between 8 a.m. and noon.
A&W, 6 Champlain St., Dieppe, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Codiac Transpo City Bus #60, on May 21 between 7:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Codiac Transpo City Bus #51, on May 21 between 7:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
Downtown Optometry Clinic, 169 Dundonald St., Fredericton, on May 20 between 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m
The Head Shoppe, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Public Health is now offering COVID-19 testing for all New Brunswickers who have 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 symptom are also encouraged to get tested.
Previous public exposures
Public Health previously reported the following potential public exposures:
Moncton region, Zone 1:
Extreme Windows, 80 Loftus St., Moncton, on May 18, May 19, May 20 and May 21 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Subway, 100 Morton Ave., Moncton, on May 19 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
TD Bank, 525 Regis St., Dieppe, on May 22 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
Arthurette General Store, 1450 Route 109, Red Rapids, on May 11 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., May 16 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and May 21 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Save Easy, A-24 Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 11, May 14, May 15, and May 21 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Grant's Service Centre, 1151 W. Riverside Dr., Perth-Andover, on May 13 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
NB Liquor, 26F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 13 between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Lewis Pharmacy, 14F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 11 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and May 14 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Squeaky's Convenience, 2-18F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 14 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Castle Building Supplies, 24B Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 14 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and May 20 between noon and 5:30 p.m.
Aldo Shoes, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Le Château, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Lawtons Drugs, 1381 Regent St., on May 19 and May 20, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 21, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Dollarama, 1033 Prospect St., on May 21, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Giant Tiger, 1160 Smythe St., on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton on Saturday, May 15, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Walmart Supercentre, 1399 Regent St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Walmart, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Dollarama, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sobeys Fast Fuel, 530 Brookside Dr., Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Fadi's Pizza, 312 Main St., Fredericton on Tuesday, May 18, between noon and 2 p.m.
Fredericton Regional Centre, 300 St. Mary's St., on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton on Wednesday, May 19, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Other public exposures
Public Health said the dates of a previously reported public exposure at the Fredericton YMCA daycare were incorrect. The correct dates are:
Fredericton YMCA daycare, 570 York St., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19
Christ Church (Parish) Church, 245 Westmorland St., Fredericton, Sunday, May 16, 10:30 a.m. service.
Hope City Church, 429 Clements Dr., Fredericton, on Sunday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. services.
Petro Canada, 20 Royal Rd., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Home Depot, 1450 Regent St., Fredericton, Wednesday, May 19, between 5 and 7 p.m.
Scholten's, 325 Sunset Dr., Fredericton, on May 17 between 4 and 8 p.m.
Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton, on May 16 between 9 and 11 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., Fredericton, on May 15 between 3 p.m. and May 16 at noon.
Riverbend Golf Club, 541 Route 628, Durham Bridge,on May 15, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Penniac Ultramar, 22 Route 628, on May 15, between 9 and 11 a.m. and between 2 and 4 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.
Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., between 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and noon on Sunday, May 16.
Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton, on Friday, May 14, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
CJ Munn Equipment, 1095 Hanwell Rd., Fredericton, on Friday, May 14, between 1 p.m. and 4 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.
Pizza Delight, 243 St. Mary's St., on May 14, between noon and 2 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.
McDonald's Restaurant, 1177 Prospect St., on May 14, between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Cal's Independent Grocer, 135 Otis Dr., Nackawic, on May 14, between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Irving Big Stop Blue Canoe restaurant, 415 Nevers Rd., Waasis, on May 14, between 10:30 a.m. and noon.
Progressive Credit Union, 395 Connell Rd., Woodstock, on May 13, between 11 a.m. and 1 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.
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.
A&W, 1018 Prospect St., Fredericton, on May 12, between noon and 2 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.
University of New Brunswick Fredericton campus, residence administration building, 20 Bailey Dr., Fredericton, on May 11 and May 12, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Sobeys, 463 Brookside Dr., Fredericton, on May 11, between 6 and 8 p.m.
Tony Pepperoni, 510 Brookside Dr., on May 11, between 5 and 7 p.m.
The Drome, 301 Main St., on May 11, between 8:45 and 11 p.m.
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., on May 11, from 9 to 10 a.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the Pickle Jar Restaurant, 620 Queen St., from May 11 to May 16.
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 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.
Wolastoq Wharf, 527 Union St., on May 9, between noon and 2:30 p.m.
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 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.
Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12.
STMR. 36 Restaurant – Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12.
Costco Wholesale, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton, on May 9, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 54 Canada St., Saint-Quentin, on May 16, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Jean Coutu, 177 Victoria St., on May 15, between noon and 1 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 1420 Vanier Blvd., Bathurst, on May 16, between 5 and 7 p.m.
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights:
Air Canada 314 – from Vancouver to Montreal, departed at 11:24 p.m. on May 11.
Air Canada 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:06 p.m. on May 12.
Air Canada 8946 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:47 p.m. on May 10.
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.