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Saturday, October 23, 2021

New Brunswick to reinstate state of emergency as province reports record COVID-19 cases, three more deaths

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HALIFAX — New Brunswick will be returning to a state of emergency as the province continues to battle the growing fourth wave of COVID-19, officials announced Friday.

“The situation we currently face in New Brunswick is indeed serious. That is why, on the advice of public health, cabinet is reinstating a state of emergency, and bringing in a mandatory order as of 11:59 p.m. tonight,” said Premier Blaine Higgs.

During Friday’s news update,  Higgs announced the following restrictions would be put in place effective 11:59 p.m. Friday.

All public health measures previously announced remain in place. The following additional measures will be implemented under the mandatory order:

  • People must limit their contacts to their household plus 20 consistent contacts.
  • Indoor private gatherings will be limited to 20 consistent contacts.
  • There will be no limits on outdoor gatherings, as long as physical distancing is maintained.
  • Businesses and events where people gather or exercise, including museums, cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, casinos, amusement centres, arenas, game rooms, pools halls, live entertainment venues, weddings, funerals, gyms, yoga studios and similar venues must ensure all employees are fully vaccinated or are continuously masked and tested regularly. Patrons and participants entering such events remain required to be fully vaccinated.
  • Physical distancing is required at businesses, services or events where proof of vaccination is not required, such as grocery and retail stores, private businesses and libraries.

Faith venues have the option to either ensure all participants show proof of full vaccination, or implement the following measures:

  • operate at 50 per cent capacity;
  • maintain physical distancing;
  • ensure continuous mask use;
  • record names of all attendees or have assigned seating;
  • eliminate singing from services; and
  • prevent anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been instructed to self-isolate from entering.

“It is unfortunate to return to a state of emergency, however, it is necessary,” said Higgs. “We need to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the number of hospitalizations does not continue to rise.”

Higgs also announced that going forward, the province will return to a state of emergency at any time there are more than 25 people hospitalized in the province.

“We must do this because of the strain that this number of hospitalizations puts on our health care system. As hospitalizations decrease, the mandatory order and the public health measures will remain in effect to ensure our hospitalizations stabilize,” said Higgs.

Higgs said there are currently 31 people in hospital, with 15 patients in an intensive care unit. Of the 31 patients, 27 or 87 per cent, are not fully vaccinated.

“We knew that there would be more cases of COVID-19 after the mandatory order was lifted at the end of July. But the pace of this fourth wave is beyond what we had anticipated,” added Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health during Friday’s news update.

Russell says for the past week the province had been averaging 67 new cases per day, with hospitalizations rising by an average of one patient per day.

“It is clear that our current situation is very serious,” said Russell. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have acted to protect New Brunswickers. We have also acted to preserve the health care system that we all depend upon. We have not hesitated to take action to limit the spread of this virus, and we will not hesitate now.”

THREE DEATHS, 78 NEW CASES FRIDAY

Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting three COVID-19 related deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of people who have died as a result of the virus to 52.

During Friday’s news update, Dr. Jennifer Russell announced a person in their 70s from the Moncton region, a person in their 80s from the Moncton region, and a person over 90 from the Edmundston region, have died.

Russell also announced a single-day record 78 new cases on Friday, along with 76 recoveries, as the active number of cases in the province rises to 573.

According to health officials, 59 of Friday’s 78 new cases, or 76 per cent, are not fully vaccinated.

“If you remain unvaccinated, perhaps you believe this disease will not affect you because of your age or current health status. But the greatest risk affects us all equally, and that is the risk that COVID-19 presents to our health care system,” said Russell.

During a technical briefing on Friday, the Horizon Health Network’s lead infectious disease specialist said that the province got it wrong when the decision was made to lift all health-protection measures on July 30.

“All of us in this room right now, with the evidence of this rapid increase in Delta virus in the province, we’ll all agree that was not the right decision to make,” said Dr. Gordon Dow during Friday’s technical briefing.

“Many other jurisdictions made the very same mistake. Alberta made the mistake, except they made it a month before us. Saskatchewan made the mistake. The United States made the mistake. The U.K. made the mistake. There were a lot of mistakes made.”

Dow says that senior health officials in the province can all agree that it was a mistake to lift all restrictions when there was plenty of evidence at the time to suggest that the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant would envelop the province by the fall.

New Brunswick has recorded 866 cases this month — nearly a quarter of the total reported since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

The province’s lead COVID-19 epidemiologist said each recorded case in September generated an average of 1.5 additional cases.

Dr. Mathieu Chalifoux also said more than 85 per cent of the cases in September have been related to the Delta variant.

COVID-19 CASE DATA

New Brunswick has had 3,707 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, 3,081 people have recovered and 52 people have died in the province from COVID-19.

Public health says a total of 448,802 COVID-19 tests have been processed since the start of the pandemic.

The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 978 confirmed cases (137 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 371 confirmed cases (30 active cases)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 776 confirmed cases (187 active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 925 confirmed cases (97 active case)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 376 confirmed cases (89 active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 190 confirmed cases (21 active cases)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 91 confirmed cases (12 active cases)

CASE BREAKDOWN

Eight new cases were reported in the Moncton region (Zone 1) involving:

  • two people in their 20s
  • three people in their 30s
  • two people in their 40s
  • one person in their 70s

Three cases are under investigation, three are contacts of previously confirmed cases and two are travel-related cases.

Six new cases were reported in the Saint John region (Zone 2) involving:

  • one person age 19 and under
  • one person in their 20s
  • one person in their 40s
  • one person in their 50s
  • two people in their 70s

Three cases are under investigation and three are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Twenty-eight new cases were reported in the Fredericton region (Zone 3) involving:

  • seven people age 19 and under
  • five people in their 20s
  • three people in their 30s
  • four people in their 40s
  • four people in their 50s
  • two people in their 60s
  • three people in their 70s

Sixteen cases are under investigation and 12 are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Twenty-two new cases were reported in the Edmundston region (Zone 4) involving:

  • 11 people age 19 and under
  • two people in their 20s
  • two people in their 30s
  • four people in their 40s
  • two people in their 50s
  • one person in their 60s

Thirteen cases are under investigation and nine are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

Thirteen new cases were reported in the Campbellton region (Zone 5) involving:

  • four people age 19 and under
  • one person in their 20s
  • two people in their 30s
  • three people in their 40s
  • two people in their 50s
  • one person in their 70s

Eight cases are under investigation and five are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

One new case was reported in the Miramichi region (Zone 7), involving a person in their 70s, that is under investigation.

VACCINE UPDATE

As of Thursday, 78.6 per cent of New Brunswickers age 12 and older are fully vaccinated and 87.4 per cent have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In total, 1,155,893 vaccine doses have been administered in New Brunswick.

All eligible New Brunswickers can book their second dose appointments now for a date that is at least 28 days after their first dose.

POTENTIAL PUBLIC EXPOSURES

Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is urged to request a test online or call Tele-Care at 811 to get an appointment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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