N.B. premier says Atlantic bubble to reopen in 'mid-April,' official date to be announced in days

·5 min read
N.B. premier says Atlantic bubble to reopen in 'mid-April,' official date to be announced in days
Corrie Hudson, 88, was the first New Brunswicker over 85 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from a pharmacist today in Fredericton. Pharmacist Ryan Quinn administered a vaccine. (Submitted by Government of New Brunswick - image credit)
Corrie Hudson, 88, was the first New Brunswicker over 85 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from a pharmacist today in Fredericton. Pharmacist Ryan Quinn administered a vaccine. (Submitted by Government of New Brunswick - image credit)

The Atlantic bubble will reopen in "mid-April," New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Wednesday evening.

Higgs made the announcement to reporters following a conference call with other Atlantic premiers.

A firm date is expected within the coming days.

"We hope to nail that down in the next day or two," Higgs said, noting that all of the premiers are watching what's happening in western and central Canada with the variant and case counts in general.

"That's very much on our mind," Higgs said. "So the timing for us is what Public Health is comfortable with. For me it's not about rushing ahead, it's about a calculated move forward, so we don't have to move back again. And I think in very short order, we'll be able to come together on a timeline we are comfortable with."

The bubble will likely be a Maritime bubble at first, with Newfoundland and Labrador in the midst of a delayed election. Elections NL has again extended the deadline for voting; ballots must now be at the agency's headquarters by March 25.

As well, Higgs noted, Newfoundland and Labrador is "obviously cautious right now, they've seen first hand how quickly cases can explode.

"We'd like for it to be a full Atlantic bubble, but initially it will likely be a Maritime bubble."

Higgs also held out hope of reopened borders beyond the Atlantic provinces, suggesting that could happen by mid-July.

The timing will depend, he stressed, on when 75 to 80 per cent of people are vaccinated.

"We'll know within a few months whether we can hit that target," Higgs said.

One new case, outbreak declared over at Edmundston care home

New Brunswick announced one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday and declared the end of an outbreak at a special care home in Edmundston.

The new case is an individual aged 40 to 49 in Zone 4, or the Edmundston region.

A government news release says the case is linked to a previous case and the person is isolating.

A map of where all active COVID-19 cases are located as of March 17, 2021.
A map of where all active COVID-19 cases are located as of March 17, 2021.(CBC News)

On Tuesday, the province said a case of COVID-19 in the Edmundston region has been identified as a presumptive case of a variant, and a sample will be sent to the Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory for confirmation.

This new case brings the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Brunswick to 1,477. The total number of recoveries is 1,404 and there have been 30 deaths.

The total number of active cases is 42, with one person in hospital.

Newfoundland and Labrador wants to be part of Atlantic bubble

Premier Blaine Higgs is to meet Wednesday evening with Premiers Iain Rankin of Nova Scotia, Dennis King of Prince Edward Island and Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador to discuss easing travel restrictions between the four Atlantic provinces.

Higgs said recently that the premiers are looking at restarting the so-called Atlantic bubble in late April.

Higgs said the Maritime provinces want to include Newfoundland and Labrador in the discussions, but Rankin has said he has discussed a reopening of a "Maritime bubble" that would exclude Newfoundland and Labrador.

Last summer, the four provinces allowed free travel across their borders with no need for self isolation. Those restrictions were reinstated after an increase in cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey is optimistic about an Atlantic Bubble forming sometime next month, and hopes his province will be part of it.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey is optimistic about an Atlantic Bubble forming sometime next month, and hopes his province will be part of it.(NTV/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador saw a big spike in cases last month after superspreader events, but numbers have since stabilized to single digits and multiple days in a row with no new cases.

On Wednesday, Furey said he believes Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to join the bubble by mid-April.

"I'm quite hopeful we can get there in the timelines that they are discussing," Furey told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

"Our case numbers are going down, our positivity rates are lower than some of the other provinces within the Atlantic region. So I'm quite hopeful to have a positive outcome, in conjunction of course with the public health officers."

2nd case at Edmundston school, outbreak over at care home

New Brunswick Public Health officials have linked a second case of COVID-19 to École Notre-Dame in Edmundston. The first case was announced Tuesday.

The province says the school community has been notified, and students and staff will continue to learn or work from home for the next three days. This is to allow for contact tracing to be carried out and the school to be cleaned and sanitized, the release said.

Officials are asking students and staff at the school to minimize potential contacts as much as possible. They also ask parents to not send their younger children to child-care facilities.

Public Health has also declared a COVID-19 outbreak officially over at Villa des Jardins. The special care home had more than 30 cases in early February.

Exposure notifications in Edmundston

Officials are alerting Edmundston residents of potential public exposure to the virus at the Edmundston Truck Stop at 100 Grey Rock Rd. on the following dates and times:

  • March 9 between 2:35 a.m. and 3:05 a.m.

  • March 10 between 2 a.m. and 3:35 a.m.

  • March 11 between 9:45 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.

  • March 12 between 11:35 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

People who have been to the site of a potential exposure during these times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.

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.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

  • 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 Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.

  • Describe symptoms and travel history.

  • Follow instructions.