Public Health announced three more COVID-related deaths Wednesday and said new case counts "and other data updates" will no longer be included in its news releases, starting Saturday.
The information will still be available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
"We know that the PCR [polymerase chain reaction] cases we will be reporting are not a true reflection of the severity of the situation," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.
That's because the province is now limiting diagnostic PCR lab tests for those considered at the highest risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19.
Anyone else with symptoms must rely on less accurate at-home rapid tests and self-report positive results.
"We need to remember that COVID-19 is all around us and we need to follow Public Health measures, including getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster when eligible," Russell said.
A person 50 to 59 years old in the Saint John region, Zone 2, and two people in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, one aged 50 to 59 and the other 70 to 79, have died as a result of COVID-19, according to a news release.
Their deaths push the pandemic death toll to 168.
Based on information available from PCR tests, Public Health is reporting 779 new cases of COVID-19.
The breakdown of the new COVID cases includes:
Moncton region, Zone 1 — 264
Saint John region, Zone 2 — 202
Fredericton region, Zone 3 — 93
Edmundston region, Zone 4 — 70
Campbellton region, Zone 5 — 24
Bathurst region, Zone 6 — 47
Miramichi region, Zone 7 — 79
There are now 6,823 active cases across the province.
Fifty-nine people are in hospital with COVID-19, up from 56, including 16 in intensive care. Ten of them are on ventilators.
Of those in hospital, 41 are over the age of 60, and none are under 19.
"The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated," Public Health said in the news release.
"Hundreds" of health-care workers across the province continue to isolate at home due to the virus, it said. As of Tuesday, the number was 571.
A total of 83 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is unchanged since Tuesday, 90.4 per cent have received their first dose, up from 90.3 per cent, and 21.9 per cent have received a booster dose, up from 21.3 per cent.
New Brunswick has had 18,345 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 11,352 recoveries so far.
A total of 630,521 PCR tests have been conducted to date, including 3,668 on Tuesday.
Some students might attend school in-person next week
Some New Brunswick students with special needs could attend school in-person next week, the Department of Education has confirmed.
Last week, Education Minster Dominic Cardy announced a delay in return to in-person classes, citing the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Starting Jan. 11, all public school students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will be learning from home until "at least" Jan. 21, he said. The measure will then be reassessed weekly.
The department is working with school districts to "ensure that vulnerable or at-risk students can access the extra supports they need when schools transition to home learning next week," department spokesperson Flavio Nienow said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
"School districts are currently working to determine which students will need extra supports. These supports could involve following individualized plans or learning at school," Nienow said in French.
Affected families will receive information about this from their child's school or school district "in the coming days," he added.