New Brunswick recorded one death from COVID-19 in the past week, down from two last week, while the number of hospital admissions because of the virus continued to rise to 23, from 20, and 14 the week before, figures released by the province Tuesday show.
The number of active hospitalizations for COVID, however, decreased by one to 27, including two who require intensive care, the weekly COVIDWatch report shows.
The two regional health authorities, meanwhile, are reporting 41 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including three in intensive care.
Unlike the province, Horizon and Vitalité health networks include patients who are admitted because of the virus, as well as those who were initially admitted for another reason and later test positive.
"Overall, we're seeing a stable period across Canada," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health. "So when you look at everything that's happening across the country, we're sort of in keeping with that, so slight increases and decreases."
PCR-confirmed COVID cases decreased between June 5 and June 11 for the fourth straight week, at 471, according to the province.
But the number of PCR tests conducted jumped nearly 42 per cent to 4,054, from 2,864 last week, despite the province limiting access to the lab tests to people with COVID symptoms and who are considered at higher risk, such as those over age 50 or under two years of age, those who are immunocompromised, pregnant, or who live or work in a hospital or in long-term care.
"I think there's fluctuations that are easily explainable and some that are not," said Russell.
"I don't think I can tell you anything specifically about why the numbers change from week to week. It is a snapshot in time," she said.
"I guess the good news is … that whatever the testing, whatever the case numbers, what we're really focused on is, how many of those people are having severe symptoms enough to require hospitalization, etcetera. So we're seeing a pretty stable picture."
An additional 371 people reported testing positive on rapid tests, putting the total number of new COVID cases at 842.
That's down from 893 in the previous report.
There are now 697 active cases across the province, down from 786.
Breakdown of hospitalizations, cases
The latest life claimed by COVID-19 was a person in their 70s in the Moncton region, Zone 1, a comparison of this week's report and last week's report reveals.
Most of the people who are hospitalized are between the ages of 60 and 79, said Russell.
A child under 10 is among those admitted to hospital. The others include one person in their 20s, one in their 50s, nine in their 60s, seven in their 70s, three in their 80s, and one in their 90s.
The two people in ICU are in their 70s and 80s.
"Individuals that are unprotected by vaccine continue to have the highest rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 and death," according to the report.
Russell continues to encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated and boosted.
Vaccination rates have not budged from last week, although 934 more people rolled up their sleeves — 582 for their booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 229 for their second shot and 123 for their first jab, COVIDWatch shows.
A total of 52.6 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are boosted, 88.1 per cent have received two doses of vaccine, and 93.2 per cent have received one dose.
Of the 471 new PCR-confirmed cases reported this week, 72.4 per cent were "protected," which the province defines as boosted or fully vaccinated with two doses for less than six months, while 130 were "unprotected," meaning they were fully vaccinated for more than six months, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated.
Vaccination is "not protecting you against getting COVID," noted Russell. "It's protecting you against getting hospitalized and having bad outcomes, requiring ICU admission … and dying."
Of the hospitalizations since Dec. 5, including ICU cases, 50.2 per cent were protected. Of the ICU cases alone, 38.3 per cent were protected, and among the deaths, 54.7 per cent were protected, according to the report.
The more significant measurement — rate per 100,000 — is lower among the protected in all three categories than the unprotected, stressed Russell.
"That's how we measure all population outcomes in terms of statistics," she said. "It's a number that's comparable across jurisdictions. It's a number that you can transfer from different data sets in terms of being able to look at the actual risk for the population."
The rate of hospitalizations per 100,000 among the protected was 129, compared to 173 among the unprotected. Among ICU cases, 18.3 per 100,000 were protected, compared to 39.8 unprotected, and for deaths, 34.7 per 100,000 were protected, versus 38.9 unprotected.
The regional breakdown of the 471 new PCR-confirmed cases and 697 active cases includes:
Moncton region, Zone 1 — 139 new and 184 active cases
Saint John region, Zone 2 — 94 new and 140 active cases
Fredericton region, Zone 3 — 129 new and 195 active cases
Edmundston region, Zone 4 — 25 new and 39 active cases
Campbellton region, Zone 5 — 10 new and 13 active cases
Bathurst region, Zone 6 — 41 new and 81 active cases
Miramichi region, Zone 7 — 33 new and 45 active cases
New Brunswick has had 66,816 confirmed cases of COVID since the beginning of the pandemic, with 422 deaths and 65,697 cases considered resolved so far.
Horizon and Vitalité reports
Horizon Health Network has 32 active COVID-19 hospital admissions, including two in intensive care, as of Saturday, down from 46 in its previous report.
The distribution of the cases include:
Moncton region, Zone 1 — five
Saint John region, Zone 2 —11
Fredericton region, Zone 3 — eight
Miramichi region, Zone 7 — eight
No details about which hospitals are provided.
The Vitalité Health Network has nine COVID-19 patients in hospital, including one in intensive care. That's down from 20 in last week's report.
Three of the patients, including the one in ICU, are at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, one is at the Edmundston Regional Hospital, three are at the Chaleur Regional Hospital and two are at Tracadie Hospital.
Horizon is dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks on two hospital units in the Saint John region, Zone 2, and Fredericton region, Zone 3. The names of the hospitals and which units are not provided.
Vitalité has three COVID-19 outbreaks, as of June 8: Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital, nephrology unit; Edmundston Regional Hospital, surgical unit 2; and at the Regional Addictions Services centre in Campbellton.
There are 84 health-care workers off the job across the province because they either tested positive for COVID-19 or were a close contact of a positive case, according to the regional health authorities.
Thirty-four of them are Horizon employees, down from 37, and 50 work for Vitalité, down from 57.