For the seventh straight day, New Brunswick Public Health confirmed COVID-related deaths in its daily update.
In its Monday, Oct. 4 update, the province confirmed the deaths of a person in their 80s and another over 90 in Zone 1, the Moncton region.
And, for the seventh straight day, Premier Blaine Higgs and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, offered condolences to the friends and families of people who lost their lives due to the virus.
"This is a tragic reminder that our situation in New Brunswick remains very serious. Said Higgs. "I remain confident that we will see our active cases and hospitalizations decline soon, as long as we all do our part and follow the rules in place under the mandatory order."
The Monday update confirmed 75 new COVID-19 infections in New Brunswick, including 71 per cent among residents not fully vaccinated.
"Of the new cases, 48 or 64 per cent are unvaccinated, five or seven per cent are partially vaccinated, and 22 or 29 per cent are fully vaccinated," Public Health stated in the latest update.
The province currently has 767 active cases.
The update also stated the number of people hospitalized because of the virus grew to 49, including 21 in an intensive care unit. Breaking down the vaccination status of the 49 in hospital, Public Health reported 38 were unvaccinated, three partially vaccinated and eight fully vaccinated.
The fourth COVID wave hit several long-term care facilities across the province, with some witnessing widespread outbreaks. In Woodstock on Sunday, Public Health notified Carleton Manor that one of its residents tested positive for the virus.
In a message to Neighbours and families, administrator Scott Green said manor staff are working with Public Health. He said health officials would complete additional testing over the next few days.
"Our extremely dedicated staff are taking precautionary measures to keep everyone safe and provide exceptional care to our neighbours," Green wrote. "We will continue to update you as we progress."
With a significant spike in the virus's impact on New Brunswick's schools, Department of Education and Early Childhood Learning officials said they are working with Public Health to develop new ways to deal with the health issue.
While noting it would not have an immediate announcement regarding details of its new approach, the update said health and education officials would consider the use of rapid testing.
The Monday update included reports of newly confirmed cases since Friday at schools and child-care services in six of the seven health zones in the province, including Townsview School in Woodstock.
Only Zone 7, the Miramichi region, escaped the virus at a school over the past four days. It was also the only zone without a confirmed new infection in Monday's update.
Under current guidelines, schools with positive cases will close for at least one day to allow contact tracing, risk assessments and operational response. Education and Health officials previously noted that students wouldn't necessarily miss a school day if Public Health officials could complete their work over a weekend.
The province's school guidelines explained school district officials would contact families of students in affected schools to explain any impact on learning. Meanwhile, Public Health staff would notify families of which it identified a family member who may have been in close contact with the virus.
With most of the infections during the COVID-19 fourth wave hitting those not fully vaccinated, who also account for 69 percent of hospitalizations, provincial officials continue to push vaccinations as critical to stopping the virus spread.
As of Monday, 80.6 per cent of eligible New Brunswick residents received both doses of the vaccine. They urge everyone eligible to book an appointment as soon as possible at a health network clinic or pharmacy. They can also take advantage of walk-in clinics, including one from 2 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the AYR Motor Centre in Woodstock or the Perth-Andover Baptist Church, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8.
Public Works said it resolved delays at virus assessment centres across the province, except in Zone 3, the Fredericton and Upper River Valley. The update said most appointments for testing could now be booked 24 to 48 hours in advance, except in Zone 3, which is currently experiencing a backlog. Public Health expects to resolve the Zone 3 problem by Wednesday.
Almost half of Monday's newly reported infections occurred in the Moncton region, with 37 of the 75 cases. Sixteen of those involved people under 20.
The cases per zone in Monday, Oct. 4 update are as follows:
Zone 1, the Moncton region: 37
Zone 2, the Saint John region: 4
Zone 3, Fredericton and Upper River Valley: 7
Zone 4, Edmundston, Grand Falls and St. Quentin: 18
Zone 5, the Campbellton region: 6
Zone 6, the Bathurst region: 3
Zone 7, the Miramichi region: 0
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun