N.B. reports 14 new cases of COVID-19 as Shannex Saint John outbreak rises

·4 min read

A retirement-living complex in Saint John has announced six new cases of COVID-19 after testing residents and staff Saturday.

Shannex Parkland now has 15 confirmed cases, including five employees and 10 residents.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer, said Public Health officials have members of a special team on site to assist Shannex.

"An outbreak in any long-term care facility is concerning because it's a vulnerable population," she told CBC News.

Testing was completed for all residents at Tucker Hall and Carleton Hall on Saturday, but not all results are in.

New Brunswick announced 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, mostly concentrated in the Saint John and Moncton regions.

A positive case has been confirmed at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, according to a letter sent to parents and guardians by Anglophone East School District superintendent Gregg Ingersoll.

Public Health officials will contact parents if their child has been in close contact with the confirmed case and needs to self-isolate. Ingersoll said if parents are not contacted by Public Health, their child can continue to attend school.

The entire Saint John region is in the orange-level recovery phase and has 72 active cases.

All residents isolating

Public Health declared an outbreak on Nov. 20 at Tucker Hall, at the Parkland complex, after an employee tested positive.

Shannex has rolled out several measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including having all residents isolate in their rooms.

CBC
CBC

Lisa Snodgrass, clinical practice director and infection control specialist, said anyone entering a resident room is wearing full personal protective equipment.

"We're into this now over a week," she said in an interview. "It can be troublesome for residents to have to stay in their rooms, for sure."

Snodgrass said the facility's recreation team is ensuring residents have something to occupy their time, such as reading materials and exercises to do.

COVID positive area

The Shannex Parkland community has three buildings, including Tucker Hall, Carleton Hall, and an adult residential facility.

There are about 250 residents and 200 staff members across the complex.

Carleton Hall is an independent living building and Tucker Hall is a nursing home.

The cases include 10 residents and four employees at Tucker Hall, and one Carleton Hall employee.

Residents who have tested positive have been moved to a designated area where they are being cared for by staff working exclusively with COVID-19 cases.

The area has a separate entrance and exit to control access.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Snodgrass said residents were moved into the designated section of the building "shortly after" the first three resident cases were identified.

"We do have team members identified beforehand who have stepped and said that they would work in these areas should we end up in an outbreak situation," she said.

The first few cases were already in the same part of Tucker Hall, which was used to create an area for COVID-positive residents.

Under pandemic restrictions, most movement within buildings is limited to health-care personnel.

Family of residents who tested positive have been contacted.

Outbreak source unknown

Snodgrass said Shannex is working with Public Health to investigate the primary source of the outbreak.

The facility plans to conduct further testing of residents and employees on Monday and Tuesday.

Some employees at the facility are currently self-isolating.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

"It certainly does have an effect on staffing but we are working on that 24/7 to ensure that we have adequate staff on site and adequate roles of staff on site," Snodgrass said.

"We are so thankful for our employees that have been able to come to work, and willing to come to work."

Staff from Public Health and the Department of Social Development have assisted as needed in gathering equipment and organizing recreation activities.

Ambulance New Brunswick and Extra-Mural, the province's home health-care program, are also at the Parkland Saint John complex.

119 active cases

There are now 119 active cases in the province, and no one is in the hospital.

There are four new cases in the Moncton region (Zone 1), including an individual under 19, a person 20-29, and two people 40-49.

In the Saint John region, nine new cases were announced on Sunday, including three people under 19, a person 30-39, a person 50-59, two people 80-89, and two people 90 and over.

The cases in the Saint John and Moncton regions are self-isolating and remain under investigation.

One new case was also reported in the Bathurst region (Zone 6). It is an individual 30-39 and is travel-related.

Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick
Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick

In addition to the 72 active cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2), there are 28 active in the Moncton region, 16 in the Fredericton region and three in the Bathurst region.

Russell said it's hard to predict at this time when the orange-level regions might return to yellow.

"Certainly if everybody's pulling in the right direction, I am cautiously optimistic," she said.

There are more than 2,000 people self-isolating across the province this weekend.

New Brunswick has confirmed 495 cases since the start of the pandemic in March. Seven people have died and 369 have recovered.

The province conducted 942 tests on Saturday for a total of 123,883.