New Brunswick has 10 new cases of COVID-19 and 1,170 people are self-isolating, including 31 health-care workers, either due to infection or direct contact with a case, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
Spokesperson Gail Harding declined to say whether the health-care workers have tested positive or were told to stay home because they had contact with a case.
"For privacy and confidentiality reasons, we cannot provide the status of the health-care workers currently in isolation," she said in an emailed statement.
New Brunswick has seen one of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases among health-care workers compared to other provinces, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
Between July 2020 and June 2021, the province had 227 infected health-care workers, which amounts to 9.9 per cent of cases overall.
Only Quebec's rate was higher, at 12.3 per cent. Thirteen of its health-care workers died.
Four of the new confirmed cases are in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Fredericton region, two in the Bathurst region and one in the Miramichi region, according to a news release from the Department of Health.
There are now 164 actives cases in the province, including three people who are in hospital. No one is in intensive care.
The Department of Health won't disclose the vaccination status of the hospitalized people, or even the zone in which they live, citing privacy.
But all three have tested positive for the alpha variant first identified in the U.K., Harding said.
Most of the province's active cases are the alpha variant, not the more contagious delta variant that is driving the fourth wave and the spike in cases across the country, figures provided by the department show.
Of the cases where sequencing has been completed, 78 have been alpha and only three have been the delta variant, first reported in India.
Asked whether community transmission is suspected, Harding replied, "While we are continuing to investigate the cases, most cases to date have been identified as contacts of a previous case."
Zone Alpha Delta Moncton region, Zone 1 51 3 Saint John region, Zone 2 2 0 Fredericton region, Zone 3 5 0 Edmundston region, Zone 4 0 0 Campbellton region, Zone 5 0 0 Bathurst region, Zone 6 3 0 Miramichi region, Zone 7 17 0
A total of 74.1 per cent of New Brunswickers age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, up from 73.8 per cent on Tuesday, while 83.9 per cent of the eligible population have had a first shot, up from 83.8.
In the past six weeks, the province has dropped from first to last in Atlantic Canada for the percentage of total population fully vaccinated.
The province had originally targeted having 75 per cent of those 12 and older double-dosed by Aug. 2. But on July 23, Premier Blaine Higgs announced that the province would move into the green phase of COVID recovery on July 31, with no restrictions, regardless of whether the goal was met.
Province July 10 Aug. 25 New Brunswick 44.4% 66% Nova Scotia 40.2% 69.3% Prince Edward Island 30.2% 68.2% Newfoundland and Labrador 29.5% 67.8%
Breakdown of the new cases
The 10 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed Wednesday break down this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases:
A person 19 and under
A person 30 to 39
A person 40 to 49
A person 50 to 59.
One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and three are under investigation, Public Health says.
Saint John region, Zone 2, two cases:
A person 30 to 39
A person 40 to 49.
One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and one is travel-related.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
A person 50 to 59 who was a contact of a previously confirmed case.
Bathurst region, Zone 6, two cases:
Two people 20 to 29 and are both contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Miramichi region, Zone 7, one case:
A person 50 to 59 and the case is under investigation.
Since Tuesday, 13 more people have recovered from COVID, bringing the total number of recoveries to 2,486 so far.
New Brunswick has had 2,697 confirmed cases of COVID since the pandemic began and 46 people have died.
A total of 402,660 tests have been conducted, including 1,129 on Tuesday.
Infectious disease specialist warns more hospitalizations inevitable
An infectious diseases specialist in Ontario says New Brunswick shouldn't gauge how well it's doing with COVID-19 cases by the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
The province has only three people hospitalized with the respiratory disease, but Dr. Abdu Sharkawy contends that could change quickly.
There will be many challenges in the near future, including students heading back to school on Sept. 7 and more people gathering indoors as the weather cools, said Sharkawy, an infectious diseases consultant with the University Health Network and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
"The health-care system is going to see a rise in cases and inevitably there is going to be [intensive care units] and [emergency rooms] that are going to be seeing increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients," he told CBC's Harry Forestell.
"To say that's not going to happen because we're not seeing huge influxes at this point in time is frankly foolish. It's inviting harm. It's inviting trouble."
Sharkawy said New Brunswickers should implore governments at all levels for improved safety standards, including making better ventilation for schools a priority.
"We have to keep our eye on the ball here because complacency is our enemy," he said.
"We've seen it at every stage of this pandemic, and we are under a lot of false hope if we believe that our numbers at 75 or 80 per cent vaccination are going to do the trick."
Sharkawy noted the province's health-care system hasn't had to deal with many cases of flu or other respiratory diseases during the pandemic, but looser Public Health measures, such as reduced masking, may change that too.
Public Health continues to monitor the situation, including the number of active cases, hospitalizations, rate of New Brunswickers getting fully vaccinated, vaccine effectiveness, and variants of concern in New Brunswick and across Canada, to assess the province's progress and determine next steps, said Department of Health spokesperson Gail Harding.
"Should COVID-19 activity increase to a level that threatens to overwhelm our recovery, further advisories and Public Health measures may be promoted to maintain the stability of the recovery process," she said in an emailed statement.
One of the most important measures people can take is to get fully vaccinated, Harding said.
"If not fully vaccinated, individuals should strongly consider masking in indoor public spaces to protect themselves and others."
Francophone community college requires vaccination
The Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick said Wednesday it will require full vaccination for students as well as staff.
The college said Wednesday all students will have to be vaccinated by Oct. 15 if they don't want to undergo regular testing and wear masks at all times. The college will be offering vaccination clinics on every campus, it said in a news release.
The college joins other New Brunswick and Canadian universities and colleges that have included mandatory vaccination policies before the fall semester begins, with similar regular testing and masking rules.
Students and staff, even those who are fully vaccinated, will also have to wear masks at all times inside buildings, corridors, commons areas and shared offices.
Masks are also required inside classrooms when people can't maintain a one-metre distance. The public still won't be able to book campus space for events.
Saint John chamber survey finds little support for vaccine passports
Nearly three-quarters of Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce members who responded to a survey say they don't support vaccine passports, the results released Wednesday show.
Of the 1,075 businesses in the greater Saint John area that responded, 788, or 73.3 per cent, said they are not in favour, the chamber said in a news release.
A quarter of respondents, or 269, said they do support vaccine passports, while 1.67 per cent, or 18, said they were undecided.
"Businesses are concerned that further requirements will add to already overburdened staff, when the uncertainty over the legal ramifications are added in, businesses are left with a higher level of risk," chamber CEO David Duplisea said in a statement.
Businesses do, however, support the requirement for some type of vaccination proof for international travel and large gatherings, he added.
The members were also asked whether they would ask for proof of vaccination and to identify the sector they work within.
More than 86 per cent, or 930, said they would not, while 13 per cent, or 145, said they would.
Of the sectors identified, most were from the retail, health care, hospitality, and government sectors, according to the news release.
Last month, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters the province was not considering vaccine passports.
But earlier this month, a Department of Health spokesperson said New Brunswick is studying the idea.
"We continue to monitor COVID-19 in the province and to discuss this decision with our federal and provincial partners," Bruce Macfarlane said.
The chamber launched the survey on Aug. 11 to gauge the level of support for or against the idea of vaccine passports.
Fifty-two per cent of the chamber's 2,057 members responded.
With more than 1,000 responses, the chamber said it was "able to get a clear picture of the attitude in the business community."
Province compiling survey results
A provincial government survey of employees about their vaccination status closed Monday at 5 p.m., but the results aren't available yet.
"The process to compile the data is now underway," Jennifer Vienneau, spokesperson for Service New Brunswick, said in an emailed statement.
She expects the results to be finalized by the end of next week, she said.
In the online survey, launched Aug. 13, the government asked employees to anonymously reveal whether they've had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, two doses or none.
It was sent to 11,000 "Part 1" employees, which includes includes all line departments, also referred to as the civil service.
The results were meant to help the government update its "workplace risk assessments and communicable disease prevention plans as part of the GNB Path to Green Safety and Wellness Plan," Cheryl Hansen, clerk of the executive council, had told employees in an email obtained by CBC News.
But "given the risk of variants and the fact that most new cases in New Brunswick are being found in those who aren't fully vaccinated, government has since agreed to act on a recommendation from Public Health for a mandatory vaccination or testing policy for all provincial government employees," said Vienneau.
The survey was voluntary. Vienneau did not say how many employees responded.
It was sent only to Part 1 employees.
It was "not possible" to survey the roughly 18,500 Part 2 employees, who work for the public school system, including teachers, bus drivers and school district employees, due to vacations, said Vienneau.
"And the two regional health networks are responsible for Part 3 employees," about 18,500 the health-care workers, she said.
More walk-in vaccination clinics offered
Walk-in and mobile Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine clinics are being offered for people 12 and older across the province.
Walk-in clinics available Wednesday:
Saint John, Exhibition Park, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Shediac, Public Health Office, 3:15 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Walk-in clinics available Thursday:
Sackville, Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saint-Quentin, Auberge Évasion de Rêves, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bathurst, K.C. Irving Regional Centre, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shippagan, Public Health Office, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Saint John, Exhibition Park, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
A mobile clinic is taking place on Friday, at Parlee Beach in Shediac between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m, and another mobile clinic is taking place on Saturday at the Blackville Village Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
A list of upcoming mobile and walk-in clinics is available online.
They are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose.
Anyone age 12 or older is eligible to get a vaccine and can get their second shot 28 days after their first.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and another death, a man in his 60s, the province's 94th casualty of the pandemic. The province has 50 active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador has two new cases and 13 active cases.
Prince Edward Island has no new cases and six active cases.
New possible exposures
Public Health has identified new places in New Brunswick where people may have been exposed to the coronavirus:
Bathurst region, Zone 6:
Aug. 21 between midnight and 3 a.m. – Party à la Youpi with DJ Saulnier, Army Camp, Leech
Aug. 16 between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. – La Trappe, Vieux Couvent, Caraquet
Aug. 15 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – La Brôkerie, 39 du Carr Ave., Caraquet
Miramichi region, Zone 7:
Aug. 22 between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Gallan's Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
Aug. 19 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Sailor and Jane Eatery, 1 Jane St, Miramichi
Public Health recommends that people who have been at a possible public exposure site and are not fully vaccinated get a COVID test, said Department of Health spokesperson Gail Harding. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811.
For people who are fully vaccinated, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms and get a COVID test if symptoms develop.
Previous exposure notices
Public Health has identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a person who may have been infectious while on the following flights:
Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 7548 – from Toronto to Fredericton
Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:38 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8506 – from Montreal to Fredericton, departed 7:45 p.m.
Aug. 13 – Air Canada Flight 8946 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 10:04 p.m.
Aug. 11 – Air Canada Flight 8773 – from Montreal to Saint John, which departed at 9:14 a.m.
Public Health has also identified places in New Brunswick where people may have been exposed to the coronavirus during the past two weeks.
Aug. 20 between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. – Casino NB, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Aug. 20 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Pump House Restaurant, 51 Orange Lane, Moncton
Aug. 14 between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., Aug. 15 between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., Aug. 17 between noon and 1 p.m., Aug.18 between noon and 1 p.m. and Aug. 19 between noon and 1 p.m. – Route 51 Green Line and Route 62 Hildegard Codiac Transpo, 140 Millennium Blvd., Moncton
Aug. 18 between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. – Igloo Bar, 300 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
Aug.18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Aug, 16 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., Aug. 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 11 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 10 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Crowne Plaza Moncton, 1005 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 17 between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. – Tide and Boar Brewing, 1355 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 16 between 5 and 7 p.m. – Boathouse Restaurant, 8588 Main St., Alma
Aug. 16 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Burger King, 465 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 16 between 12 p.m and 7 p.m – Magic Mountain Water Park, 2875 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Aug. 15 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. – Jean's Restaurant, 1999 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Aug. 14 between 2 and 3 p.m. – Champlain Mall Food Court, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. – Wise Guyz Pub, 176 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 11 – Groupe- Support Emotionnel, 96 Norwood Ave., Suite 300A, Moncton
Aug. 14 between 2 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency room, 330 Université Ave., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Action Car and Truck Accessories, 200 Horsman Rd., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, and 13 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Deware's Service Centre, 402 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Oulton College, 55 Lutz St.
Aug. 12 between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – St. Louis Bar & Grill, 1405 Mountain Rd.
Aug. 12 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – H&M, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Our Place, 97 Cameron St., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, and 12 between 6:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Hillsborough Irving, 2799 Main St., Hillsborough
Aug. 11 between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre diagnostic imaging waiting room, 330 University Ave.
Aug.11 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – New Life Pentecostal Church, 65 Dawson Rd., Weldon
Aug. 11 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, and 11 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Corn Crib, 337 Mountain Dr., Moncton
Aug. 11 between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 10 between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. – Chris Rock Tavern, 48 Albert St.
Aug. 9 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 9 between noon and 1 p.m. – Pür & Simple Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 7 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Parish, 11 St. Andrews Rd., Pointe-du-Chêne
The province also shared possible sites of COVID-19 exposure in the Saint John, Fredericton, and Miramichi regions
Saint John region, Zone 2:
Aug. 17 and 18 – Fairway Inn and JJ's Diner, 216 Roachville Rd., Sussex
Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– On the Vine Produce, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– Greco, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
Aug. 16 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Gateway Mall, 138 Main St., Sussex
Aug. 15 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.– Costco Wholesale Saint John, 300 Retail Dr., Saint John
Aug. 14 between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - MasterMind Toys, 70 Consumers Dr., Saint John
Aug. 13 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. - Pet Valu, 30 Plaza Ave., Saint John
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
Aug. 20 between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
Aug. 19 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
Aug. 19 between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. – Fredericton International Airport, arrivals area, 2570 Route 102 Highway, Lincoln
Aug. 18 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – Carleton County Court House, 19 Court St., Upper Woodstock
Aug. 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Springhill Infrastructure Asphalt, 940 Springhill Rd., Fredericton
Aug. 15 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Grand Falls Cataracts, Baseball Diamond between Chapel Rd and Victoria Rd, Grand Falls
Aug. 12 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. – Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton
Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Costco Gas Bar and Costco Store, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton
Aug. 11 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Aug. 12 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore, 350 Connell St., Woodstock
Aug. 11 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – McDonald's in Walmart, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton
Aug. 10 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Coast Tire, 283 Connell St., Woodstock
Bathurst region, Zone 6:
Aug. 18 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Nigadoo Falls Trail, Nigadoo
Miramichi region, Zone 7:
Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Jean Coutu Pharmacy, 4 Johnson Ave., Miramichi
Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Gallan's Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
Aug. 12 between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Walmart, 200 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi
The full list of possible exposures is updated regularly and is available on the government's website.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and 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 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.