Province warns employees to get ready for second wave of COVID-19

Government officials are preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 as New Brunswick comes through its eighth straight day without a new case of the disease.

In an inter-office memo on Tuesday, the provincial government said it was planning its response to a second wave of the coronavirus and advised employees to do their own planning as well.

"We must remain vigilant and do our part to slow the spread of the virus and apply what we have learned during the first wave as GNB plans for the second wave," said the memo from Cheryl Hansen, clerk of the Executive Council Office.

Employees were advised to purchase essential supplies ahead of time and avoid panic buying.

"Stay connected with family, friends and neighbours to have a support system already in place," the email said. "Stay healthy both mentally and physically. And make alternative care arrangements if you or a family member gets sick."

Employees were urged to take vacation time if they're able, then follow their plan to prepare for a second wave of the disease.

"It is difficult to think about a second wave so take this opportunity to access and learn about what supports and resources are available," the document said.

'The pandemic is not over'

Cheryl Hansen, who oversees the provincial civil service, said the email was treated as a public document, since it was distributed to close to 9,000 government employees in New Brunswick.

"Throughout the pandemic we have communicated regularly with our employees to encourage best practices and preparation for a second wave of COVID-19," she said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

Louis Leger/ premier's chief of staff
Louis Leger/ premier's chief of staff

"We are doing what all employers should be doing. The pandemic is not over and we encourage all employers and their employees to be educated, aware and ready."

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, couldn't speak to the memo sent out to government employees. But she did say everything Public Health learned from the first wave of COVID-19 will inform decision-making in the future.

She said it's up to New Brunswickers to keep the province in the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan. This includes limiting large gatherings, keeping their distance, and self-isolating for two weeks after travel from outside the Atlantic bubble.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

"All of the things we have done up until now, have served us extraordinarily well."

If outbreaks were to occur across New Brunswick, she said the province could even step back into the first two phases of its COVID-19 recovery plan.

"People really cannot afford to become complacent at this point int time."

Alcohol, for instance, can create a lapse in judgment, where people forget to distance themselves from others.

In Canada, she said, people between the ages of 20 and 39 have been accounting for the highest incidence rates for COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

"Even though we're not seeing that happen here in New Brunswick, that doesn't mean that it can't happen."

3 active cases

According to the government website, there are still three active cases of the respiratory illness, and no one is in hospital.

There have been 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. Since the first presumptive case was announced March 11, the province has reported 165 recoveries. Two people have died.

On Monday, 278 COVID-19 tests were conducted, for a total of 51,522 so far.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test on the government website at gnb.ca.

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms are asked to:

  • Stay at home.

  • Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.

  • Describe symptoms and travel history.

  • Follow instructions.