New Brunswick has seen its first case of a rare blood clot experienced after a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Dr. Jennifer Russel, the chief medical health officer, has confirmed.
The individual received treatment and has recovered, Russell said at a live-streamed COVID-19 update on Tuesday afternoon.
She noted that the individual, who is between age 30 and 39, received the AstraZeneca-Covishield vaccine in mid-March prior to a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization not to administer the vaccine to people under age 55.
"These reactions are extremely rare … but they do happen and they are treatable," Russell said.
She stressed that it is important to keep in mind "how rare these incidents are," saying the vaccine provides protection against the much higher risk of COVID-19 infections and blood clots from COVID-19 infections.
Russell said the adverse reaction occurred "sometime between five and 21 days" after the person received the vaccine.
The reaction is the third such case in Canada.
Unlike Quebec and Alberta, which had the first and second instances of blood clot reactions in Canada, New Brunswick has not identified the sex of the affected individual.
In Quebec's case, the individual was a woman, although her age was not provided, and in Alberta's, a man in his 60s.
No plans to lower age limit for AstraZeneca
There are no plans to lower the minimum age limit for receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in New Brunswick.
Currently, the vaccine is only available to people age 55 or over.
Asked at Tuesday's COVID-19 update whether the province is considering lowering that limit, as some other provinces have done, Dr. Jennifer Russell said the situation is "different in different places."
"Here in New Brunswick, we will continue giving this vaccine to people 55 and over … we will keep on using whatever vaccine we have available at the time," Russell said in French.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard noted that "New Brunswick has a lower number of doses of [AstraZeneca] left" and is not expecting to receive anymore before "well into May."
In the meantime, she said, people should continue to book appointments and get the first vaccine that's available to them.
"We've seen how information comes on a daily basis," Shephard said. "So I think that for now we're going to hold the line and continue to use it."
No new cases reported
For the first time in over a month, Public Health is reporting no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday.
"But I still need people to continue to get tested" as the province's vaccine rollout races against the more contagious variants, Russell said during a live-streamed COVID-19 update.
The province last reported no new cases on March 13.
There are currently 139 active cases in New Brunswick, with 100 of those in the Edmundston region, Zone 4.
The number of confirmed cases is 1,797. Since Monday, 19 people have recovered for a total of 1,624 recoveries. There have been 33 deaths. Currently, 21 patients are hospitalized, including eight who are in an intensive care unit.
A total of 277,706 tests have been conducted, including 1,205 since Monday's report.
As of Tuesday, 204,576 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, and 185,548 New Brunswickers have received at least one vaccine dose.
Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing their total active case count to 68.
Newfoundland and Labrador has two new cases and 27 active ones, while Prince Edward Island reported no new cases and has 13 active cases.
65 or older? You can book your vaccine now
New Brunswickers 65 or older can now schedule an appointment to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, either by booking online through Vitalité or Horizon health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy.
There will be 19,000 spaces available at clinics organized by the two health networks over the next two weeks.
"I encourage everyone who is eligible for a vaccine and wishes to receive one to make an appointment," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Tuesday.
"And if you can help someone else make an appointment, please do so. Assisting a loved one or neighbour so they can get vaccinated doesn't just help that person, it helps us move forward as a province."
Province sets up vaccination phone line for truck drivers
Truck drivers who are regular cross-border commuters now have a dedicated toll-free phone line to call for assistance with booking vaccination appointments.
The number is 1-833-724-0088.
"Truck drivers have been eligible to book an appointment for a vaccine since March 24," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said at Tuesday's COVID-19 update.
"We appreciate their hard work and want to make sure they are protected and healthy, so we are making every effort to ensure they have access to the vaccine."
Agents can assist with booking or book the caller themselves during the phone call.
"The vital work that trucker drivers do can take them outside of New Brunswick to areas where they have an increased chance of contracting the virus and bringing it back into the province," Shephard said.
"We encourage all truck drivers to book their appointments, and to get vaccinated."
New limits for travel into, out of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is placing new restrictions on who can travel to the province, announcing that as of Thursday at 8 a.m. people will not be allowed to enter unless their trip is deemed essential or they are permanent residents of the province.
Premier Iain Rankin made the announcement during a news briefing early Tuesday afternoon.
Only those travelling from P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador, where COVID-19 case counts are low, are exempt from the new rules.
Rankin also said that Nova Scotia residents are also being told not to leave the province unless it is necessary.
At New Brunswick's COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said there was a call between the Atlantic premiers Tuesday, and noted that there has been discussion of further delaying the Atlantic bubble.
"The date has not been decided," Shephard said.
Public Health has identified recent possible public exposures to COVID-19 in Edmundston:
Familiprix, 131 de l'Église St., on April 8, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Jean Coutu, 77 Victoria St., Edmundston on April 16, between 1: 30 p.m. and 2 p.m.; on April 14, between noon and 12:45 p.m.; and on April 12, between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Public Health also identified a traveller who may have been infected while on the following flights on April 14 and 15:
Air Canada Flight 8970 – from Ottawa to Montreal, departed at 6:28 a.m. on April 14.
Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:14 a.m. on April 14.
Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11:53 a.m. on April 15.
Air Canada Flight 8906 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:08 p.m. on April 15.
People who were at these areas are eligible to be tested for COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.
Corrected possible exposures
The dates and times for some recent possible public exposures in Saint John have changed on the government's website.
"Through follow-up tracing work [Monday], it turns the individuals provided the wrong dates by mistake," Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said in an email.
The new information information includes:
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.
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.