New Brunswick Public Health reported 21 new cases on Wednesday, with new cases in five of the province's seven zones, and declared an outbreak at a special care home in Edmundston.
The department will not hold a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, but in a news release it noted a positive case has been confirmed at the Manoir Belle Vue special care home in Zone 4.
Residents were tested on Tuesday, and members of the provincial rapid outbreak management team, known as PROMPT, were at the home to help the residents and staff.
The 21 cases announced Wednesday break down in this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, six cases:
an individual 19 or under
an individual 20 to 29
two people 30 to 39
an individual 40 to 49
an individual 50 to 59
Saint John region), Zone 2, two cases:
an individual 19 or under
an individual 30 to 39
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
an individual 20 to 29
Edmundston region, Zone 4, 11 cases:
three people 20 to 29
two people 40 to 49
three people 50 to 59
an individual 60 to 69
an individual 70 to 79
an individual 80 to 89
Campbellton region, Zone 5, one case:
an individual 19 or under
All of these people are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation.
The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began is now 1,025, and 694 people have recovered.
There have been 13 deaths, and the number of active cases is now 317. Two patients are hospitalized with one in intensive care. As of Wednesday, 177,680 tests have been conducted, including 1,646 tests since Tuesday's report.
Four of the province's seven zones are now in the red phase of recovery — including Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John and Edmundston — with the remaining three in orange.
Elsipogtog First Nation to follow modified recovery plan
Elsipogtog leaders have unveiled a modified red-phase recovery program specific to the First Nation, which is in the Moncton region, Zone 1.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Elsipogtog First Nation Band said that "with lessons learned from past measures," the Chief, council and COVID response team want to ensure a "safe pandemic response, while minimizing the mental health strain on vulnerable community members, much due to our unique challenges/situation."
Under the modified recovery plan, the Elsipogtog School will remain open four days a week, from Monday to Thursday.
Retail businesses may remain open if they implement health and safety guidelines. They will be subject to "random inspections." Close-contact services such as salons and barbers will close.
Gaming centres will be permitted to operate at reduced hours, with reduced capacity and under strict health and safety guidelines.
Essential workers will be allowed to enter the community, but cannot visit and must leave the community immediately after work. Visitors are not permitted to enter the community.
The modified plan took effect on Wednesday, the statement said.
Riverview school confirms case, school to close
Riverview High School will close for three days as of Thursday following a confirmed case at the school.
In a letter sent to parents Wednesday evening, the Anglophone East School District said that classes will be conducted via distance learning, and that it would contact families on Sunday to share plans for the following week.
In the meantime, the district said, it is working with Public Health to identify any students or staff who might have been in contact with the virus.
Under the new red-phase rules, schools must close for three days to allow for contact tracing following a confirmed case.
Shannex Parkland reports new case at Tucker Hall
Testing results at Shannex Parkland Saint John have confirmed one new positive case at its Tucker Hall nursing home.
In a statement posted Tuesday night on its website, Shannex noted that not all results for resident and employee testing conducted Tuesday at Tucker Hall had been returned by Public Health, but that one new positive employee case had been identified.
The number of active cases at Tucker Hall is 14 residents and 10 employees, the statement said, noting that retesting will take place again later this week for all residents and employees.
Positive case closes Edmundston region school, daycare
A positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at École Saint-Jacques in Saint-Jacques, Public Health has confirmed.
The school community has been notified and all students and staff are required to self-isolate until further notice to allow for contact tracing and testing of school staff, the department said in a news release Wednesday.
As the school is located in Zone 4, which is in the red phase, it will be closed to students for three days. The child-care centre, Halte Scolaire École Saint-Jacques, located within the school, will also be closed for three days.
Comedy festival goes virtual and expands
The HubCap Comedy Festival will move to a virtual format in light of new red phase restrictions that took effect Wednesday.
Going virtual will also allow the festival to expand its roster of comedians, "which would have been impossible given current Covid-19 travel limitations," festival president Marshall Button said in a news release.
The revised lineup includes comedians from Atlantic Canada and across the country, with a new schedule of five shows set for Feb. 4, 5 and 6 (English-language shows) and Feb. 5 and 6 (French-language shows).
Tickets purchased for the originally scheduled live shows will be refunded, with an option to convert purchases into virtual show tickets. Virtual show tickets are $25, with various package options also available at hubcapcomedyfestival.ca.
Province marks pandemic milestones
Zones 1, 2 and 3 moved back to the red phase on Wednesday, the day after total case number for the pandemic in the province surpassed the 1,000 mark, and a 13th death was recorded.
"We have never been in a situation like this since the pandemic began," Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday.
"I cannot stress enough that this is a critical moment. ... Stay home as much as you possibly can and avoid interacting with people outside your household bubble."
The Edmundston region, Zone 4, went back to red earlier in the week, and the remaining three zones stayed orange,
Landfill reduced hours because of COVID-19
In an effort to reduce contact between staff and clients, the Fundy Regional Service commission said it's Crane Mountain Landfill will be closed on Saturdays as long as the region remains in red.
"Saturday operations bring high volumes of single vehicles into the Public Drop Off area, with an average of 300 vehicles over four hours," said spokesperson Brenda MacCallum.
"This results in close contact between members of the public and staff."
The landfill will remain open Monday to Friday for public dropoffs.
Edith Cavell School students to remain home
Edith Cavell School students will continue to learn from home for the rest of the week after more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at the school last week.
"The situation will be reassessed on the weekend to determine what next week will look like," said an email sent to parents.
"You will be informed as soon as a decision is made on whether we will continue with Distance Learning, or if we will be returning to the building next week."
In the past week nine schools have reported cases of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, École Régionale Saint-Basile in Saint-Basile and Élémentaire Sacré-Coeur in Grand Falls both announced positive cases and that they would close because of them.
In the Anglophone South School District, Princess Elizabeth School in Saint John school announced a positive case on Tuesday. The same district already had cases at four other schools: Quispamsis Middle School and Kennebecasis Valley High School, also in Quispamsis, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield and Millidgeville North School in Saint John.
Two schools in the Anglophone East School District, Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, also have cases.
Hair stylists close in red zones
Many New Brunswick hair stylists have been forced to close down again after half the province moved back into the red phase Wednesday.
Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 — the Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Edmundston regions, respectively — are all in red, and under the red rules, personal service businesses must close.
Adam Donnelly, a hair stylist in Saint John, says he expected the news, but it was still difficult to hear.
"I mean, orange hasn't been the best for business anyway, so unfortunately, you know, we kind of expected this," said Donnelly.
Still, Donnelly said he believes moving into red was the right thing to do.
Donnelly said he felt safe going to work, even during the orange phase, because of the stringent public health practices at his salon, many of which were in place before the pandemic anyway.
"Our sanitation protocols within this industry have always been high because it is a high touch industry," said Donnelly.
While many people may consider a hair cut or colour a fairly frivolous undertaking, Donnelly said this isn't the case for everyone.
"For a lot of people, it is their resource to feel better," said Donnelly. "I mean, we all know when you look your best, you feel your best."
Sitting in the chair is also a way for people to connect and talk about their joys and sorrows.
Donnelly said he's used to such chats after 14 years in the business, but the subjects have changed recently.
"You know, people are almost struggling to find something to talk about because everybody's just been home," he said. "But people are also offloading a lot of their, you know, their personal woes and the issues that they're going through. And, you know, I do have a personal connection with a lot of my clients. Some of them have been with me for well over a decade."
Donnelly said he tries to steer the conversation away from COVID.
"I try to change that conversation when they're sitting in my chair as much as I possibly can, try to focus on other things, try to, you know, turn the conversation around, because I want them to sit in my chair and have a positive experience and, you know, leave feeling uplifted."
Other businesses also have to close or make changes to their operating procedures, including restaurants, which may not offer in-house dining in the red phase. But unlike restaurants, which can still offer takeout, the red phase doesn't leave Donnelly with options. So no outdoor haircuts.
"I will not be doing a haircut. I will not even offer so much as advice to people on what they should be doing to do their own haircut, their own hair colours at home. We don't advise that at all."
Donnelly said clients were anxious about coming back into the salon after the closure last spring, but the stylists learned from the pandemic experience and plan to hit the ground running when the zone goes orange again.
Public exposure warnings
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights:
Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m.
Public Health has also issued the following potential COVID-19 exposure warnings:
Goodlife Fitness Centre, 175 Ivan Rand Dr. E., on Jan. 13 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Moncton North After Hours Medical Clinic, 1633 Mountain Rd., on Jan. 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Jean Coutu Kim Levesque-Cote Pharmacy, 276 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Parts for Trucks,21 Powers Rd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 11, 12 and 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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.