N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 115 in hospital, 4 deaths recorded Sunday

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Four people were reported dead due to the virus on Sunday in New Brunswick. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters - image credit)
Four people were reported dead due to the virus on Sunday in New Brunswick. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters - image credit)

Four deaths were reported as COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Brunswick jumped to 115 on Sunday.

A person age 50 to 59 in the Saint John region, a person 60 to 69 in the Edmundston region and two people in the Bathurst region — one 60 to 69 and the other 70 to 79, died due to the virus, according to the province.

It brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 187.

According to the online dashboard, there are 14 people in intensive care and four on ventilators.

Of those in hospital, 60 people were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19, according to a release.

"Seventy-one per cent of those in ICU are either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or it has been more than six months since their second dose," it said.

The majority of the people hospitalized, 92, are over the age of 60. One person is 19 or under.

There were 380 new cases confirmed through PCR testing reported, putting the active caseload at 5,265. That figure doesn't include people testing positive on rapid tests.

The origin of the majority are still under investigation. Twenty-seven are contacts of a previously confirmed case.

Most of the new PCR cases, 130, were confirmed in the Moncton area, followed by the Saint John area, where there were 71 cases reported.

An additional 615 people tested positive on rapid tests and registered their results online.

As of Sunday, 83 per cent of New Brunswickers were fully vaccinated and 30 per cent have received a booster shot.

Over 300 health-care workers off the job

A total of 368 health-care workers were off work as of Friday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Sunday.

New restrictions came into effect across the province at midnight Friday with the hope they will reduce the strain COVID-19 is placing on short-staffed hospitals.

"It's having a big impact on people," said Shephard in segment with Rosemary Barton, mentioning many surgeries have been cancelled as hospitals are struggling to balance the care of infected patients alongside others.

"We also know that getting through this latest wave is really important to support front-line workers, with diminishing their workload as much as we can so they are as ready as possible to take on what is there and coming."

Projections from Public Health show hospitalizations could reach as high as 220 within the first week of February, she added.

The province is not yet considering the introduction of a tax on unvaccinated people who get admitted to hospital, a measure currently being floated by the Quebec government, Shephard said. Instead the focus right now will be on education.

Premier Blaine Higgs previously said the province is considering the possibility of implementing proof of vaccination at the province's liquor and cannabis stores, a measure that's currently in effect in Quebec.

Measures in effect under Level 3

New Brunswick entered Level 3 of its Winter Action Plan, the most restrictive level, on Friday at 11:59 p.m.

Under Level 3:

  • Social gatherings are limited to single household bubbles.

  • No public gatherings are permitted.

  • Restaurants are limited to drive-thru, takeout and deliveries only.

  • Non-essential retail will remain at Level 2 restrictions, which include operating at 50 per cent capacity and with physical distancing measures in place.

  • Gyms, salons, spas and entertainment centres are closed.

  • Faith services are allowed only outdoors, virtually, or in-car.

  • Organized team sports are prohibited from games, competition and practice with people outside of a household bubble.

Public schools have extended at-home learning for students until Jan. 31.

Higgs previously said the province will stay in this level for at least 16 days, until Jan. 31.

The transition to Level 3 was partly initiated when the province had 100 people in hospital because of COVID-19.

Outbreak at hospital in Moncton

On Saturday, Vitalité Health Network declared an outbreak at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton.

In a news release, the health authority said there are 11 patients with COVID-19, with outbreaks in three nursing units.

"Due to the risks associated with transmission of the virus, admissions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on each patient's condition and limited to cases where admission is required," the release said.

Visits from a designated support person are suspended, except for patients in palliative care, obstetrics, pediatrics and intensive care.

The hospital will contact any patients whose appointments need to be rescheduled, Vitalité said.

The emergency department remains open. The hospital will reduce the number of surgeries and prioritize urgent cases.

Oncology and hemodialysis services will continue. The hospital will also slow down professional services like physiotherapy and medical images. People who need blood work should only come to the hospital "where their bloodwork cannot wait," the release said.

MyHealthNB access limited this weekend

The proof-of-vaccination section of the MyHealthNB website will be down from 11 p.m. on Friday until Monday.

The outage is due to a "necessary system upgrade," according to a news release.

People will still be able to access PCR test results through MyHealthNB.

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