N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 8 new cases, half of them in Fredericton region

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Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said Fredericton and the St. John River valley could face tighter COVID restrictions, possibly as soon as later this week. (Government of New Brunswick  - image credit)
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said Fredericton and the St. John River valley could face tighter COVID restrictions, possibly as soon as later this week. (Government of New Brunswick - image credit)

New Brunswick recorded eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, half of them in the Fredericton region, Zone 3.

The zone could face tighter restrictions in the coming days because an outbreak in the region involves the variant first recorded in India, the chief medical officer has said.

The other four cases were split evenly between the Moncton region, Zone 1, and the Edmundston region, Zone 4.

Officials are "very, very concerned" about the aggressive variant, which has two mutations, is highly contagious and causes more severe symptoms, Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday.

They are closely monitoring the situation and "will not hesitate" to take whatever actions are necessary to contain the virus as quickly as possible and keep it from spreading, she said.

That could include measures similar to those recently used in the Edmundston region, Russell said.

Part of that region was under lockdown for 17 days before being moved overnight Tuesday to the less restrictive orange COVID alert level.

The variant was confirmed in New Brunswick for the first time Monday in a previously reported case in the Fredericton region.

The eight new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday put the provincial total of active cases at 122.
The eight new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday put the provincial total of active cases at 122.(CBC)

The new cases break down as follows:

Fredericton region, Zone 3: four cases

  • A person 20-29

  • A person 40-49

  • A person 50-59

  • A person 60-69

Two of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, one is under investigation and the other is travel-related.

Moncton region, Zone 1: two cases:

  • A person 30-39

  • A person 60-69

Both cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Edmundston region, Zone 4: two cases

  • A person 30-39

  • A person 60-69

One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and the other is travel-related.

There are now 122 active cases in the province.

Four people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.

New Brunswick has had 1,890 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,731 recoveries and 36 COVID-related deaths.

A total of 286,698 tests have been conducted, including 1,225 on Tuesday.

Lockdown at UNB Fredericton extended until next week

A lockdown at the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton campus has been extended until 11:59 p.m. Sunday because of a COVID-19 outbreak at one of the residences, according to a memo sent to students Wednesday afternoon.

To date, eight cases are "linked to" the outbreak declared Monday at Magee House, Public Health said.

Similar lockdowns imposed at St Thomas University and the New Brunswick Community College because of their proximity to UNB and the potential for exposure have also been extended.

The decision to extend UNB's essential services status, with restricted access to campus, was made at the direction of Public Health, president and vice-chancellor Paul Mazerolle said in the email to students.

"This will continue to be assessed and monitored as things may continue to change," he said.

Magee House is residence with 101 apartment-style units for mature students, some of whom may have children.
Magee House is residence with 101 apartment-style units for mature students, some of whom may have children.(Ed Hunter/CBC)

UNB posted the same information in a public update on the outbreak at Magee House.

The apartment-style residence has 101 units for mature students, some of whom may have school-age children.

Residents, family members and staff are scheduled to be retested for COVID-19 on Wednesday, said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.

Results from the first round of testing Sunday have not been released.

"For confidentiality purposes, we will not be providing specificity on exact location for cases, but we will give out numbers linked to the outbreak," Macfarlane said in an emailed statement.

Residents and staff of UNB Fredericton's Elizabeth Parr-Johnston residence were tested Tuesday because of an exposure to a case of COVID-19.

This building, which has two or three single bedrooms per suite, each with a shared washroom, kitchen and living area, can house up to 169 people.

As of Wednesday afternoon, all residents and staff were awaiting their test results and self-isolating, Public Health said.

UNB campus security and emergency crews blocked access to Magee House residence on Tuesday.
UNB campus security and emergency crews blocked access to Magee House residence on Tuesday.(Ed Hunter/CBC)

UNB announced Monday it was immediately moving to essential services only for 72 hours "to allow for further assessment of the positive cases on campus."

St. Thomas University and NBCC also switched Monday to the essential services model for 72 hours.

The STU campus is closed and buildings are locked, while NBCC is limiting activity to "critical functions" and students will be admitted to campus only for scheduled hands-on practical training or other urgent needs.

82 Horizon staff in Zone 3 off because of COVID

Half of the Horizon Health Network staff absent on Tuesday for a "COVID-related reason" work in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, figures obtained by CBC News show.

A total of 164 employees were off work, including 82 in the Fredericton region.

Horizon spokesperson Kris McDavid could not say Wednesday whether they are sick with COVID or self-isolating as a precaution because of possible exposures.

McDavid could not say how many of them are doctors, nurses or other health-care workers, or indicate which hospitals or clinics they work out of.

The Saint John region, Zone 2, had the next highest number of employees miss work, at 21, followed by the Moncton region, Zone 1, at nine, and the Miramichi region, Zone 7, at four.

Horizon couldn't say how many of the employees who were off for COVID-related reasons were health-care workers and declined to comment on what, if any, impact their absence had on operations.
Horizon couldn't say how many of the employees who were off for COVID-related reasons were health-care workers and declined to comment on what, if any, impact their absence had on operations.(Horizon Health/Contributed)

McDavid did not immediately know how many employees Horizon has in each region, but said there are roughly 13,000 in total across the seven zones.

Asked what operational impact these absences have had, if any, and what contingency plans are in place should the situation get worse, he declined to comment.

The Oromocto Public Hospital's emergency department was without physician coverage for about 20 minutes Tuesday morning, Dr. Edouard Hendriks, vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs, confirmed.

But Horizon declined to confirm if it was COVID-related.

"Due to an unforeseen issue, there was a short delay in receiving physician coverage," Hendriks said in an emailed statement.

"There were other physicians and clinical staff on-site at OPH to provide care in case of emergency, and no adverse effects were reported," he said.

Isolation for middle school extended

The mandatory self-isolation period for all George Street Middle School students, staff and members of their households has been extended until Sunday at midnight, according to a letter sent by the province's chief medical officer of health Wednesday.

Public Health is treating the positive case of COVID-19 identified at the Fredericton school Monday as a variant, Dr. Jennifer Russell advised.

The variant first recorded in India "is more contagious and is transmitted differently than the previous strain of the virus that we had been seeing in this province."

As a result, those who had previously been asked to isolate until midnight Thursday to allow for contact tracing and testing must continue to isolate for an extra three days.

The school has 773 students in grades 7and 8, according to its website.

Some George Street Middle School students and staff will be required to have a second COVID-19 test this weekend after a positive case was identified at the Fredericton school earlier this week, the chief medical officer of health advised in a letter Wednesday.
Some George Street Middle School students and staff will be required to have a second COVID-19 test this weekend after a positive case was identified at the Fredericton school earlier this week, the chief medical officer of health advised in a letter Wednesday.(Elizabeth Fraser/CBC)

Some students and staff will also be required to get a second COVID test on either Saturday or Sunday, said Russell. Horizon Health will contact them directly to schedule an appointment.

Once Public Health has received and analyzed the test results, "next steps will be communicated to you," she said.

On Wednesday, Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane could not provide any results from the first round of tests.

Public Health has not said whether the case at the school is linked to the outbreak at the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton residence Magee House.

Testing is mandatory for all students and school personnel in order for the isolation to be lifted, Kimberly Barker, regional medical officer of health, said in an email to families on Monday.

"For those who choose to not be tested, the isolation period will be extended," she said.

Priestman Street Elementary School in Fredericton was also closed again on Wednesday for "operational reasons," the Anglophone West School District announced.

On Tuesday, superintendent David McTimoney said he was unaware of any positive COVID-19 cases at the school, "but the ripple effect of those in self-isolation has caused many staff absences for us."

"We have eight vacant teacher positions that we haven't been able to backfill," he had said in an email.

The K-5 school has 569 students, according to its website.

Possible exposure at Fredericton High School

A small group of people from Fredericton High School may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus "from a source outside of the school," Public Health said Wednesday.

Officials "don't know yet" if the exposure is linked to the outbreak at the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton residence Magee House, Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane told CBC News.

He could not immediately say how many people are affected.

Students and staff at Fredericton High School should self-monitor for symptoms and if any develop, self-isolate and book a test online or by calling Tele-Care 811, the Anglophone West School District superintendent advised families via email Tuesday night.
Students and staff at Fredericton High School should self-monitor for symptoms and if any develop, self-isolate and book a test online or by calling Tele-Care 811, the Anglophone West School District superintendent advised families via email Tuesday night.(Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Public Health has contacted the individuals directly and they are self-isolating and being tested as a precaution.

The school remains open and students who have not been contacted directly by Public Health should continue to attend school according to their schedule, Public Health said.

All students and staff are asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

New possible exposures in Zone 3

Public Health has identified three new possible public exposure in the Fredericton region, Zone 3. People who were at these locations on the days and at the times indicated are eligible to be tested for COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

  • Save Easy Independent Grocer (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic) — April 23, between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

  • Canada Post (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic) — April 23

  • Jolly Farmer (56 Crabbe Rd., Northampton) — April 22 and April 23

Lockdown ends in Edmundston, 'It's a real good day'

After nearly three weeks, the COVID-19 lockdown is over for people in the Edmundston and Upper Madawaska region.

The province lifted the order overnight Tuesday, placing that section of the Edmundston region, Zone 4, under the less restrictive orange COVID alert level.

Acting Mayor Eric Marquis says it's a great relief.

Eric Marquis, the acting mayor of Edmundston, says the move to the less restrictive orange COVID alert level comes as a great relief.
Eric Marquis, the acting mayor of Edmundston, says the move to the less restrictive orange COVID alert level comes as a great relief.(Gary Moore/CBC News)

"It's a real good day. We've worked hard to bring this situation under control. And now we have to keep on working the same way to make sure that we don't relapse with this COVID situation," he said.

Grand Falls, Saint-Léonard, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls will remain at the orange level for at least another week, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. They will be reassessed at that time.

The Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions remain at the yellow level, along with the rest of the province.

Travel in or out of orange-level areas is not recommended, but travel between orange areas is permitted, as is travel between yellow-level areas.

Marquis is urging area residents to buy local. He said it will help businesses that were closed for nearly six weeks, dating back to when the region went to the red level of recovery.

COVID numbers in Atlantic provinces

Nova Scotia announced 75 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday for a total of 489 active cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 and has 27 active cases.

Prince Edward Island reported two new cases and is still sitting at 11 active cases.

The reopening of the Atlantic bubble has been postponed until May 3 but could be further delayed, New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard has said.

Previous possible public exposures

Public Health has identified the sites, dates and times of possible public exposure in four regions. People who were at these sites are eligible to be tested for COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

Fredericton region:

  • April 24 between 10 a.m. and noon - YMCA (570 York St., Fredericton)

  • April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. - Walmart Supercentre (1399 Regent St, Fredericton)

  • April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. - Princess Auto (21 Trinity Ave., Fredericton)

  • April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. - Home Depot (Corbett Centre, Fredericton)

  • April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. - Swiss Chalet (961 Prospect Ave., Fredericton)

  • April 22 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. - Canadian Tire (1110 Smythe Ave., Fredericton)

  • April 22 between 10 a.m. and noon. - Digital World (524 Smythe Ave., Fredericton)

  • April 22 between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. - Tim Horton's (1713 Woodstock Rd., Fredericton)

  • April 22 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. - Costco (25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton)

  • April 19 to April 22 - Canada Post (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic)

  • April 21 between noon and 4 p.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (1040 Prospect St., Fredericton)

Moncton region:

  • April 12 between 5:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – emergency department – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre (330 Université Ave., Moncton)

  • April 12 between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. – X-ray department – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre (330 Université Ave., Moncton)

  • April 14 between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Urban Planet, Walmart and H&M – CF Champlain (477 Paul St., Dieppe)

Saint John region:

  • Holy Spirit Parish (Saint Matthews worship site), 45 Dollard Dr., Saint John, on Sunday, April 18, between 11 a.m. and noon. The church has closed for two weeks as a preventive measure, and St. Rose of Lima Church (part of Holy Spirit Parish) will also be closed for the next two weeks, until May 8-9.

  • Service New Brunswick, 15 King Square North, on April 15 between 3 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

  • Rocky's Sports Bar, 7 Market Square, on April 15 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Edmundston region:

  • E.& P. Sénéchal Center, Vitalité Health Network vaccination clinic, 60 Ouellette St., Grand Falls, on Monday, April 19, between 1:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. .m.; and on April 12, between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Public Health also identified travellers who may have been infected while on the following flights:

  • April 20 - Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11:45 a.m.

  • April 20 - Air Canada Flight 8906 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:01 p.m.

  • April 15 - Air Canada Flight 8919 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:56 p.m.

  • April 15 – Air Canada Flight 8906 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:08 p.m.

  • April 15 – Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal departed at 11:53 a.m.

  • April 14 - Air Canada Flight 8970 – from Ottawa to Montreal, departed at 6:28 a.m.

  • April 14 - Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:14 a.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.

  • 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.