N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Record 237 new cases, 86 Omicron cases, one death

·10 min read
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, straps on an N95 mask at Tuesday's COVID-19 news conference. (Government of New Brunswick - image credit)
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, straps on an N95 mask at Tuesday's COVID-19 news conference. (Government of New Brunswick - image credit)

The province has recorded another death and a new record number of COVID-19 cases today, with 237 cases.

A person in their 60s in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, has died as a result of COVID-19, bringing the total number of COVID-related deaths to 149.

There are 40 people in hospital, including 17 in intensive care and 11 on ventilators, and the number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant has risen from Tuesday's 70 cases to 86, Public Health said in a news release late Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday's tally of cases marked the first time the single-day total has passed 200. The previous single-day high was the 177 cases reported on Dec. 16.

"The high number of cases today is not surprising," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said.

"We are seeing the same thing happen in jurisdictions around us, which is why it is critical that people follow public health measures."

With the holidays just days away, Russell urged New Brunswickers to adhere to public health measures, including wearing a well-fitting mask, maintaining physical distancing, keeping gatherings small and booking a booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible.

"I know people are tired, but it is the small things we all do to reduce contacts which can help slow the spread" of COVID-19, particularly the more contagious Omicron variant, she said.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard echoed this advice, noting "the virus is in every corner of our province and the only way we can slow the spread is by each of us doing our part."

CBC News
CBC News

82 cases in people age 19 or under

More than 80 of Wednesday's new cases are in individuals age 19 and under, with 41 cases in people age 10 to 19, and 41 in children age 9 and under. The new cases break down in this way:

Moncton region, Zone 1

  • 57 cases

Saint John region, Zone 2

  • 96 cases

Fredericton region, Zone 3

  • 41 cases

Edmundston region, Zone 4

  • 22 cases

Campbellton region, Zone 5

  • two cases

Bathurst region, Zone 6

  • eight cases

Miramichi region, Zone 7

  • 11 cases

Public Health updates mask guidance

Public Health has updated its guidance on masks to note that people should wear a well-fitted, non-medical-type, three-layered mask or a two-layered mask with a filter.

For increased protection, people should consider wearing a properly fitted medical-grade mask such as a surgical mask, or a KN-95 or N-95 mask (not ventilated).

Masks are mandatory in indoor public places, and in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Revised winter plan chart released

On Tuesday, Premier Blaine Higgs announced that the entire province will move to stricter Level 2 restrictions just before midnight on Monday, Dec. 27, in a bid to rein in surging COVID-19 cases over the Christmas holidays.

Higgs made the announcement at a livestreamed news conference on Tuesday afternoon, where Dr. Jennifer Russell and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard also spoke, all of them referring to record cases in Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec and other nearby areas.

That will likely happen here as well, Russell said, noting "it's not if, it's when."

The province issued a chart illustrating revised restrictions to the three-level winter plan, including revisions to travel restrictions.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

Vaccination update

As of Wednesday, 82.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 89.7 per cent have received their first dose, and 15.6 per cent have received a booster dose, Public Health said.

Booster dose eligibility has been expanded to include the following people if they are 18 or older and if 158 days have passed since their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Immediate household family members of anyone working in a long-term care home, a hospital or school.

  • People working in child-care facilities and their immediate family members.

  • Those eligible for pediatric vaccinations or booster doses, and those who have yet to have their first or second dose, can schedule an appointment at a regional health authority clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy.

Clinics will continue to accept walk-ins in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year's Day. Hours and dates of operations for clinics can be found online on the gnb.ca website.

More than three million rapid tests have been given to New Brunswickers since Dec. 8 through schools, workplaces, airports and pickup sites.

With some holiday-hour exceptions, pickup sites are operating from Monday to Friday, 1 to 6 p.m., or until the daily supply has been given out. Mobile sites are operating from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., again with some holiday-hour changes.

A full list of site locations and hours is available at Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network websites under "COVID-19 rapid test pickup locations."

Cancellations, changes as Level 2 looms

The news of looming Level 2 restrictions, set to go into effect just before midnight on Dec. 27, has prompted many changes of plans across the province.

On Wednesday, St. Thomas University announced it will be moving all courses to the remote delivery format for the first two weeks of the second semester, beginning on Jan. 10, and plans to return to in-person classes on Jan. 24 for those courses already scheduled to be delivered in person.

"This pause is being made in the best interests of the health and safety of members of the STU community, as well as the greater Fredericton community and local health care system," St. Thomas president Dawn Russell said in a statement. "A delay in the start of in-person classes is happening at all public universities in the province."

Atlantic University Sport also announced it will pause all university sport competitions until at least Jan. 19, 2022.

"The AUS will continue to monitor and follow public health directives regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and will have more information available regarding the resumption of the 2021-22 season in January," the association said in an email statement.

And the City of Saint John announced Wednesday that New Year's Eve fireworks planned for Dec. 31 have been cancelled because of Level 2 restrictions.

New public exposure notices

The province shared the following new exposure sites on Tuesday.

Moncton region, Zone 1

  • Dec. 19 between noon and 2 p.m. – Silver Fox Restaurant (2986 Fredericton Rd., Salisbury)

  • Dec. 15 – Maritime Bus – Halifax to Sackville (211 Main St., Sackville)

  • Dec. 12 between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre (182 Main St., Sackville)

Saint John region, Zone 2

  • Dec. 20 between 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. – Picaroons General Store (32 Canterbury St., Saint John)

  • Dec. 19 between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – First Bible Baptist (218 Hampton Rd., Quispamsis)

  • Dec. 17 between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. – First Bible Baptist (218 Hampton Rd., Quispamsis)

Fredericton region, Zone 3

  • Dec. 14 and 15 between 9:00 a.m. and 11 a.m. – Naturally Fit (105 Lower St. Mary's St., Fredericton)

  • Dec. 11 between 11 a.m. and noon – Claudine's Eatery (138 Dundonald St., Fredericton)

Edmundston region, Zone 4

  • Dec. 16 between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – CCNB, Edmundston Campus (35 15 Août St., Edmundston)

  • Dec. 15 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. – CCNB, Edmundston Campus (35 15 Août St., Edmundston)

Bathurst region, Zone 6

  • Dec. 16 between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Greco Pizza (763 Main St., Beresford)

  • Dec. 15 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. – Greco Pizza (763 Main St., Beresford)

  • Dec. 15 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

  • Dec. 14 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite

  • Dec. 13 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

  • Dec. 10 – Le Groupe Roberts Group (613-4 Rivière-à-la-Truite Rd., Rivière-à-la-Truite)

Miramichi region, Zone 7

  • Dec. 16 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. – River City Fitness Club (128 Bridge Rd., Miramichi)

  • Dec. 15 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. – River City Fitness Club (128 Bridge Rd., Miramichi)

Flight exposures

  • Dec. 16 – Air Canada Flight 8942 – from Toronto to Moncton departed at 8:30 a.m.

  • Dec. 15 – WestJet Flight 3404 – from Toronto to Fredericton departed at 9:30 a.m.

  • Dec. 14 – Flair Flight 137 – from Toronto to Saint John departed at 7:59 a.m.

  • Dec. 13 – Porter Airlines Flight 225 – from Toronto to Moncton departed at noon

  • Dec. 13 – Air Canada Flight 8510 – from Montreal to Bathurst departed at 6:51 p.m.

  • Dec. 13 – WestJet Flight 3440 – from Toronto to Moncton departed at 1:26 a.m.

  • Dec. 12 – Air Canada Flight 8498 – from Toronto to Saint John departed at 6:13 p.m.

  • Dec. 12 – Air Canada Flight 7994 – from Montreal to Moncton departed at 1:20 p.m.

  • Dec. 12 – Air Canada Flight 8946 – from Toronto to Moncton departed at 10:23 p.m.

  • Dec. 12 – Air Canada Flight 8046 – from Montreal to Saint John departed at 8:25 p.m.

  • Dec. 11 – Air Canada Flight 8944 – from Toronto to Moncton departed at 2 p.m.

  • Dec. 10 – Air Canada Flight 8044 – from Montreal to Saint John departed at 2 p.m.

  • Dec. 9 – Air Canada Flight 8046 – from Montreal to Saint John departed at 8:12 p.m.

For the full list of new and previous public exposure notices, visit the provincial government's website.

People who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure and who have symptoms should get a COVID lab test. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811 and must isolate while waiting for their test result.

People who are not fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms are now being instructed to pick up an At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Point of Care Test (Rapid POCT) screening kit. They do not need to isolate if they have not been directed by Public Health to do so.

All positive point-of-care test results must be confirmed with a laboratory polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test.

It can take up to 14 days to test positive after being exposed to COVID-19, so even if results come back negative, people should continue to self-monitor for any symptoms and get tested immediately if any develop.

They should also avoid visiting settings with vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes, correctional facilities and shelters during that 14-day period.

For people who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the possible exposure and get a COVID lab test if symptoms develop.

They do not need to isolate while they wait for their test results.

If they do not have symptoms, they can pick up a rapid test kit and do not need to isolate.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.

Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue and 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 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.

People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting