New Brunswick has 14 new cases of COVID-19, most in the Edmundston region, Public Health reported Wednesday.
The department did not hold a live-streamed update on the coronavirus, but in a news release it noted the COVID-19 cases break down in this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases:
an individual 19 or under
an individual 20-29
an individual 40-49
an individual 60-69
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
an individual 50-59
Edmundston region, Zone 4, nine cases:
an individual 30-39
an individual 40-49
three people 50-59
two people 60-69
two people 70-79
There are now 264 active cases in the province. The number of cases confirmed so far in the pandemic is 1,302. Since Tuesday, 17 people have recovered for a total of 1,019 recoveries.
There have been 18 deaths, and five people are now in hospital, three in intensive care.
A total of 204,795 tests have been conducted, including 1,505 since Tuesday's report.
No need for emergency measures centre in Edmundston, Russell says
New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health says a co-ordinated emergency measures centre, proposed by the Liberal opposition, wouldn't serve the Edmundston region because government players are already involved.
"I don't think it would be anything new to involve those staff, they're already part of our response," Dr. Jennifer Russell said Wednesday in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
The Liberal opposition has called on the provincial government to establish a co-ordinated emergency measures centre in the Edmundston region, which is being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
There are 173 active cases in the region, also known as Zone 4, and two long-term care homes have been especially hard-hit. The region has been in lockdown for almost two weeks as cases continue to climb.
"Per capita, it's as serious as what we see around the biggest cities around the country," said acting Liberal Leader Roger Melanson.
Melanson wants to see New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization come in and evaluate the situation at the local nursing homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, including Manoir Belle Vue and Villa des Jardins.
He said this would help Public Health, Public Safety, the Department of Social Development and Vitalité Health Network better co-ordinate and fill "any potential gaps" responding to the crisis.
"My point is to make sure we have a complete and co-ordinated effort in that zone."
But Russell said Public Health is already working with the Department of Social Development, Education, Public Safety, as well as the province's two health authorities.
"We have very robust conversations with all of the players."
Some observers have also asked for the Canadian military to be deployed to the Edmundston region.
Melanson couldn't say whether the military is needed, but suggested EMO assess the situation for 24 hours first "so they can see, they can hear, they can breathe the situation there."
At Tuesday's COVID-19 news briefing, Premier Blaine Higgs said now is not the time for political opportunism, but Melanson said his ideas weren't meant as a criticism of government or Public Health.
"It's being constructive. … An official opposition party can make suggestions to try to improve the situation if the case may be."
Melanson said he plans to address his suggestion at Wednesday night's meeting of the COVID-19 cabinet committee.
"We can't be muzzled for offering suggestions to improve situations."
3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variant
A faster-moving variant of COVID-19 could become a dominant strain in the province within three months, says New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health.
On Tuesday, Dr. Jennifer Russell announced two confirmed cases of the variant in the Saint John region, Zone 2, and one in the Miramichi region, Zone 7.
Two of the cases are related to international travel and one is related to travel in Canada. The individuals are self-isolating.
"It's like dealing with a whole new pandemic," she said.
When the new variant enters a jurisdiction, Russell said it replaces the current variant, which she predicts will lead to larger outbreaks moving faster. And age is the biggest risk factor.
"The outbreaks will be quicker. They'll be larger and this is more dangerous," she said.
She said the best way to contain the variant would be for people coming into the province to quarantine in a hotel. And there should be some kind of support for essential travellers.
"Obviously, some people can't afford that."
Public exposure notification
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the virus at the following location in Zone 4:
Martin Mazda,11 Pérusse St., Edmundston, on Jan. 25, 26, 27 and 28 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
How to reschedule tests
If the nasty weather in most of New Brunswick on Tuesday caused you to miss your scheduled COVID-19 test, you'll have to rebook it, according to the Horizon Health Network.
"If you are unable to attend your #COVID19 test today due to weather, please resubmit your request by visiting gnb.ca/coronavirus or calling Tele-Care 811," Horizon said in a tweet posted Tuesday with the hashtag #NBStorm.
"Once you resubmit, you will be contacted with a new appointment date and time."
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:
A fever above 38 C.
A 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.