N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Entire province moving to tighter Level 2 restrictions next week

·16 min read
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell, Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard address the public today at 2:30 p.m. (Government of New Brunswick  - image credit)
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell, Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard address the public today at 2:30 p.m. (Government of New Brunswick - image credit)

All zones in the province will move to stricter Level 2 restrictions just before midnight on Dec. 27 in a bid to rein in surging COVID-19 cases over the Christmas holidays.

Premier Blaine Higgs made the announcement at a livestreamed news conference on Tuesday afternoon, where Dr. Jennifer Russell and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard also spoke, all of them referring to record cases in Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec and other nearby areas.

That will likely happen here as well, Russell said, noting "it's not if, it's when."

Russell showed slides of new modelling for New Brunswick, projecting up to 250 new cases each day by early January and as many as 400 new cases a day by the end of next month.

Higgs outlined the stricter Level 2 rules, which include:

  • Household contacts must be limited to a maximum of a steady 10 individuals.

  • Dining-in is permitted in restaurants, but they must operate at 50 per cent capacity and request proof-of-vaccination.

  • Restaurants, retail stores, malls, businesses, gyms, salons and spas, and entertainment centres may continue to operate, but at 50 per cent capacity and with two metres of distance between patrons.

  • For public gatherings, venues cannot have events with more than 150 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

  • Faith venues may operate at 50 per cent capacity and with physical distancing, and choirs are not permitted.

  • All travellers, including New Brunswickers returning to the province, must register or have a multi-use travel pass. Travellers arriving by air will be provided with a rapid test kit.

  • Unvaccinated people entering the province must isolate and be tested on day 10. International travellers must follow federal testing and isolation guidelines and must be tested on day five and day 10.

  • Travellers must follow public health measures when in New Brunswick, including wearing a mask and staying within a steady 10 list of contacts.

  • Employees are encouraged to work from home.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell, both wearing N95 masks rather than the cloth or surgical masks they have worn at previous COVID-19 updates, and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard each devoted much of their address to urging New Brunswickers to be careful over the holidays.

"We had all hoped for a better end to this year, but the virus is still with us," Russell said. "It will continue to be with us for some time to come."

Contacting close contacts now falls to individuals

Effective immediately, contact tracers will no longer be notifying close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Dr. Jennifer Russell says.

"This will be the responsibility of those who are infected," Russell said at Tuesday's COVID-19 news conference, noting Nova Scotia is now doing this as well.

Contact tracers will only contact the individual who tested positive or their employer, and will provide them with isolation guidance, she said.

Russell outlined specific contact tracing actions for schools, intended to limit the spread of cases in those settings.

"When an infection is confirmed in a K-8 elementary school, the entire school will be considered close contacts," Russell said, and all students and staff will be required to take daily point-of-care tests.

In high schools, this rule will apply to the infected student's classes and those who travel on the same school bus.

"With these protocols we aim to continue to provide notice to any infected person in a high-risk setting within 24 to 48 hours," Russell said.

CBC News
CBC News

156 new cases, 70 confirmed Omicron cases

There were 156 new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday, with 157 recoveries and 41 people in hospital, 19 of them in intensive care.

The number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant has risen to 70.

None of those cases are hospitalized, Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday, although she noted this is expected to change in the weeks ahead.

"I do expect to see hospitalization of Omicron cases soon," Russell said. "It's just difficult to predict the timing."

She noted that modelling predicts Omicron cases will double every two to three days, "so if you do the math, even with all of our efforts we will see those numbers go up."

"We really need the co-operation of the public right now to understand the severity … and delay that rise in cases as much as we possibly can. And the only way to do that is to limit our close contacts."

Russell did not not release information about the zones in which the current cases have been detected, or the age of the patients.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC News
Mrinali Anchan/CBC News

Long lineups at rapid test pickup sites

Dr. Jennifer Russell and Premier Blaine Higgs both urged New Brunswickers to acquire a supply of rapid test kits before the holidays Tuesday, saying a significant number of recent cases were initially detected through rapid testing.

New Brunswickers were apparently already on it, with lineups stretching around the block at several pickup sites, including the Fredericton Exhibition Grounds on Smythe Street, 548 Mountain Rd. in Moncton and the Diamond Jubilee cruise terminal in Saint John.

Dr. Jennifer Russell said she was aware of the lineups and stressed there is no shortage of tests.

"Right now we have 189,000 kits or 1.5 million tests on hand," she said. "We anticipate another 500,000 tests this week and another 750,000 tests arriving the first week of January."

Yesterday alone, "25,674 kits were distributed" at the regional health authority locations, Russell said, adding "we do want people to understand there are other places to pick them up."

With some holiday-hour exceptions, pickup sites are operating from Monday to Friday, 1 to 6 p.m., or until the daily supply has been given out. Mobile sites are operating from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., again with some holiday-hour changes.

A full list of site locations and hours is available at Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network websites under "COVID-19 rapid test pickup locations."

The majority of cases in recent weeks were discovered because someone got a positive rapid test result first, then was referred for a PCR test to confirm the result, Russell said.

New public exposure notices

The province shared the following new exposure sites on Monday.

Moncton region, Zone 1

  • Dec. 15 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. - The Fisherman (640 Main St., Shediac)

  • Dec. 14 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.- GoodLife Fitness Dieppe Blvd and Aquatique St (555 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe)

  • Dec. 13 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. - GoodLife Fitness Dieppe Blvd and Aquatique St (555 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe)

  • Dec. 12 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Avenir Centre (150 Canada St., Moncton)

  • Dec. 12 between 4 p.m. and 5:40 p.m. – Pat Crossman Memorial Aquatic Centre (400 Whitepine Rd., Riverview)

  • Dec. 12 between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – The Moncton Press Club (160 Assomption Blvd., Moncton)

  • Dec. 11 between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – Gusto Italian Bar & Grill (130 Westmorland St., Moncton)

Saint John region, Zone 2

  • Dec. 15 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Tim Hortons (158 Main St. W, Saint John)

  • Dec. 14 between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Tim Hortons (158 Main St. W, Saint John)

  • Dec. 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. - Saint John Provincial Court (10 Peel Plaza, Saint John)

  • Dec. 12 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. - East Side Mario's (75 Consumers Dr., Saint John)

  • Dec. 12 between noon and 2:00 p.m. - Walmart (450 Westmorland Rd., Saint John)

  • Dec. 12 between 8:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. - Kings Church (332 Hampton Rd., Quispamsis)

  • Dec. 10 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. -TD Station (99 Station St., Saint John)

  • Dec. 9 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. - TD Station (99 Station St., Saint John)

  • Dec. 8 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. - TD Station (99 Station St., Saint John)

  • Dec. 7 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. - TD Station (99 Station St., Saint John)

Fredericton region, Zone 3

  • Dec. 16 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. – Palate (462 Queen St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 15 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Fredericton Public Library (12 Carleton St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 15 between 10:30 a.m. and noon – Coffee Mill (1187 Smythe St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 14 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Grant-Harvey Centre (600 Knowledge Park Dr., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 14 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Fredericton Public Library (12 Carleton St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 13 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Grant-Harvey Centre (600 Knowledge Park Dr., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 13 between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – Regent Mall (1381 Regent St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 12 between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Brunswick Street Baptist Church (161 York St., Fredericton)

  • Between December 11 and 12 between 7 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. – Kingwood Gymnastics (41 Kingswood Way, Hanwell)

  • Dec. 10 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Canadian Tire (388 Connell St., Woodstock)

  • Dec. 8 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Tokyo Ramen (502 Forest Hill Rd., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 6 between 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. – York Arena (891 Barker St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 6 between 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. – York Arena (891 Barker St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 5 between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Lady Beaverbrook Rink (411 University Ave., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 5 between 10:30 a.m. and noon – St. Luke's Anglican Church (104 Church St., Woodstock)

  • Dec. 5 between 9:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. – Walmart (125 Two Nation Crossing, Fredericton)

  • Dec. 4 between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Walmart (125 Two Nation Crossing, Fredericton)

Edmundston region, Zone 4

  • Dec. 17 between noon and 1 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 17 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Foodland-Grand Falls (535 E. H. Daigle Blvd., Grand Falls)

  • Dec. 17 between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – IGA Extra Supermarket (580 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 17 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – E. & P. Sénéchal Centre (Gym) (60 Ouellette Rd., Grand Falls)

  • Dec. 16 between 3:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. – Physiothérapie Nord-Ouest (296 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 16 between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. – IGA extra Supermarché Donat Thériault (580 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 15 between 4:30 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. – Familiprix (138 Main St., Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska)

  • Dec. 14 between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 14 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Pizza Delight (180 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 14 between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. – Energym Inc (112 St. Joseph Rd., Saint-Jacques)

  • Dec. 13 between 3:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Physiothérapie Nord-Ouest (296 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 12 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Jean Coutu (177 Victoria St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 11 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (240 Madawaska Rd., Grand Falls)

  • Dec. 11 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Giant Tiger (200 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls)

  • Dec. 11 between midnight and 1:30 a.m. – Bar Su'l Fanil (70 Mgr Plourde Ave., Edmundston)

Bathurst region, Zone 6

  • Dec. 16 between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Greco Pizza (763 Main St., Beresford)

  • Dec. 15 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. – Greco Pizza (763 Main St., Beresford)

  • Dec. 15 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

  • Dec. 14 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite

  • Dec. 13 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

  • Dec. 10 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

Miramichi region, Zone 7

  • Dec. 16 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. – River City Fitness Club (128 Bridge Rd., Miramichi)

  • Dec. 15 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. – River City Fitness Club (128 Bridge Rd., Miramichi)

Previously listed exposure notices

Moncton region, Zone 1

  • Dec. 13, Between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. - Goodlife Fitness (555 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe)

  • Dec. 13, Between 6 p.m. and midnight - Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre (330 Université Ave., Moncton)

  • Dec.12, Between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. - Ole Hibachi (790 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe)

Saint John region, Zone 2

  • Dec. 16, Between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. - Saint John Regional Hospital; Department of Oncology radiation outpatient services (400 University Ave., Saint John)

  • Dec. 15, Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. - Saint John Regional Hospital; Department of Oncology radiation outpatient services (400 University Ave., Saint John)

  • Dec. 14, Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. - Saint John Regional Hospital; Department of Oncology radiation outpatient services (400 University Ave., Saint John)

Fredericton region, Zone 3

  • Dec.14, Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. - Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy (348 King St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 13, Between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. - Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy (348 King St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 12, Between 4 p.m.and 5 p.m. - Willie O'Ree Place (605 Cliffe St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 12, Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. - Trailway Bowl-a-Drome (301 Main St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 12, Between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. - Tobique-Plex skating (159 Main St., Plaster Rock)

  • Dec. 12, Between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. - Pizza Delight (403 Connell St., Woodstock)

  • Dec. 12, Between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. - Delta Fredericton restaurant (225 Woodstock Rd., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. - Pizza Delight (243 Saint Marys St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 1:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Fredericton Playhouse (686 Queen St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. - Ringo's Bar & Grill (1185 Smythe St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. - Regent Mall – Food Court (1381 Regent St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. - Grimross Brewery (600 Bishop Dr., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. - Delta Fredericton pool (225 Woodstock Rd., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11, Between 11 a.m. and 1:30p.m. - Nackawic Arena (152 Otis Dr., Nackawic)

  • Dec. 11, Between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. - Atlantic Superstore (1150 Onondaga St., Oromocto)

  • Dec. 10, Between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. - PetSmart (1124 Prospect St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 9, Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. - Jungle Jim's (1168 Smythe St. , Fredericton)

  • Dec. 8, Between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. - Tokyo Ramen (502 Forest Hill Rd., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 8, Between 7:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. - Kingswood Lodge - Gym (1700 Kingswood Way, Hanwell)

  • Dec. 8, Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. - Appleby's Taekwando (880 Hanwell Rd., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 8, Between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. - Jeremy's Barber Shop (199 Main St., Plaster Rock)

  • Dec. 7, Between 6:30 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. - Kingswood Lodge - Gym (1700 Kingswood Way, Hanwell)

  • Dec. 6, Between 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. - York Arena (891 Barker St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 5, Between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Lady Beaverbrook Rink (411 University Ave., Fredericton)

Edmundston region, Zone 4

  • December 14, Between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. - Burger King (100 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls)

  • December 13, Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - Burger King (100 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls)

  • December 13, Between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. - Greco (77 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls)

  • December 12, Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. - Pizza Shack (525 Carrier Rd., Edmundston)

  • December 10, Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. - Acanthus Gallery (136 Church St., Grand Falls)

  • December 9, Between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. - Edmundston Regional Hospital - outpatient waiting room (275 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston)

Miramichi region, Zone 7

  • Dec. 13, Between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. - Pleasant Street After Hours Clinic (250 Pleasant St., Miramichi)

  • Dec. 14, Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. - Go To Insure: Stevens, Wilson & Lockerbie (505 King George Highway, Miramichi)

  • Dec. 15, Between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. - Go To Insure: Stevens, Wilson & Lockerbie (505 King George Highway, Miramichi)

For the full list of new and previous public exposure notices, visit the provincial government's website.

People who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure and who have symptoms should get a COVID lab test. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811 and must isolate while waiting for their test result.

People who are not fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms are now being instructed to pick up an At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Point of Care Test (Rapid POCT) screening kit. They do not need to isolate if they have not been directed by Public Health to do so.

All positive point-of-care test results must be confirmed with a laboratory polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test.

It can take up to 14 days to test positive after being exposed to COVID-19, so even if results come back negative, people should continue to self-monitor for any symptoms and get tested immediately if any develop.

They should also avoid visiting settings with vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes, correctional facilities and shelters during that 14-day period.

For people who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the possible exposure and get a COVID lab test if symptoms develop.

They do not need to isolate while they wait for their test results.

If they do not have symptoms, they can pick up a rapid test kit and do not need to isolate.

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.

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