N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 2 confirmed cases, 5th presumptive case
Long list of recommended closures announced by medical health officer
New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health is urging those who can stay home to do so, and for everyone to practise social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as the province has a second confirmed case of the virus and a fifth presumptive case, bringing the total to seven.
"The time is now for all to act to limit the spread of this virus, particularly to our most vulnerable residents," Dr. Jennifer Russell said during a news conference Monday.
She has recommended the closure of all daycares, with the exception of those that provide services to essential workers, such as those in health care.
Other public spaces were also urged to close.
- Performance spaces.
- Swimming pools, spas, sauna and water parks.
- Recreational sites such as ski resorts, amusement parks, trampoline centres.
- Cinemas and arcades.
- Training centres and dance, spinning, zumba and yoga centres.
- Indoor soccer centres.
- Sugar bush operations open to the public.
This can and will save lives, Russell said.
"This is our opportunity. Right here, right now."
If these facilities choose to ignore the recommendations, Premier Blaine Higgs said they will be doing "a real disservice" to the larger community.
Here is a roundup of other developments.
2 members of UNB community test positive
Two presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been reported at UNB Fredericton, according to a statement Monday from university president Paul Mazerolle.
Both individuals are being monitored. The cases are "directly connected" to the first travel-related case in New Brunswick — a woman who was travelling in France.
On Friday, it was announced all campuses would be suspending in-person classes for the remainder of the semester.
"Over the next 48 hours, we will be scaling down operations to only those essential to the delivery of courses by alternative methods and business continuity processes," Mazerolle said Monday.
All members of the university community are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms for the next 14 days.
5th presumptive case travelled to Greece
New Brunswick has a fifth new presumptive case of COVID-19.
The woman, aged between 20 and 30, recently travelled to Greece, was tested and treated and is now in isolation at her home in the southern part of the province, she said.
Public Health officials in New Brunswick are tracing anyone the woman has been in contact with.
The four other presumptive cases were in close contact with the first case that was confirmed in the province last Wednesday.
Those cases are:
- A man between 50 and 60 years old.
- A woman between 50 and 60 years old.
- Two men between 20 and 30 years old.
All four patients live in the central part of the province and have mild symptoms.
There are now two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. There are also 196 negative tests.
Non-essential government services shut down
Premier Blaine Higgs announced all non-essential government services will be shut down Tuesday, until further notice.
Employees will remain on standby and available to be deployed to help in critical service areas, either because critical staff are sick or because additional staff are needed, he said.
Campobello residents reassured on travel
New travel restrictions put in place by the federal government on Monday have New Brunswick's border communities cautious but not worried.
As it stands now, the border is still open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens, meaning it's "business as usual" for Campobello Island, according to Mayor Brett Newman.
"I don't think there will be a whole lot of international travel, other than the usual gas and groceries, but we have been assured that transportation to St. Stephen will still be allowed," he said in an interview.
Premier Blaine Higgs said Canada is working closely with U.S. officials to ensure border restrictions between the two countries don't happen.
"So Campobello Island residents can rest assured that they will be allowed to move freely as they have been over the many, many years," he said.
The new restrictions strengthen the case for New travel restrictions put in place by the federal government on Monday have New Brunswick's border communities cautious but not worried.
Concerns over hospital supplies
Members of the New Brunswick Nurses Union have raised an alarm about people stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer from New Brunswick healthcare facilities.
John Dornan, the Horizon Health Network chief of staff, said he is worried about running out of products, particularly the N95 masks, which are designed to protect people from airborne particles.
"We have told our staff please don't hoard this stock," he said.
Dornan said medical, nursing and respiratory therapy students will be used at hospitals as part of their education. Students won't be used beyond their area of training.
Patient visits further restricted
All patient visits are restricted within Horizon facilities.
Horizon is also excluding access of salespeople, representatives or high school students.
Meanwhile, there is a complete ban on patient visits across all Vitalité Health Network facilities, except for palliative care, obstetric and pediatric units.
"For these specific units, only one designated immediate family member or care partner will be allowed to visit," Vitalité said in a tweet.
Province sets up testing centres
Alternative testing centres for COVID-19 are being set up and those who need to access them will have to go through the province's Tele-Care 811 line.
Horizon and Vitalité posted information Monday about the new COVID-19 community assessment centres on their websites.
The testing, done by appointment, is only available to those exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 following a triage completed by Tele-Care 811.
"If people feel that it's a shortcut to go to these clinics directly, you will have undone our whole purpose," said Dr. John Dornan, Horizon Health chief of staff.
"In wartime, we don't send all of our troops over the line at the same time, so that the enemy can shoot us all. We do it creatively."
Horizon Health said the clinics are set up in Moncton, Saint John, Miramichi and Fredericton with a plan to set up an assessment centre in Upper River Valley very soon.
Vitalité set up screening clinics in each of the network's zones: Beauséjour, Northwest, Restigouche and Acadie-Bathurst. Tele-Care 811 or a family doctor must make a referral.
Reducing surgical access
Horizon Health and Vitalité health networks are reducing surgical access, except for urgent procedures such as limb-saving and cancer surgeries.
People scheduled for elective surgeries will be contacted about their appointments.
The same thing will happen at ambulatory clinics, where people are seen for things such as followup care related to their diabetes, asthma or thyroid disease.
Starting Monday, all public schools were closed for two weeks because of the outbreak. Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Friday night that public health officials will be monitoring the situation and the closure could be extended beyond two weeks.
Higgs said teachers across the province have been looking at online activities for students and Scholastic Canada services in both French and English. He said students should also keep up with their studies at home.
The premier also said parents will not be punished financially for staying home with their children.
"We have a situation we want people to do the right thing and finances do not play a role in that decision making,"
He said the province is looking to Ottawa for help financially. He said the province is "pressuring for clarity on this financial package."
While some parents scrambled to find childcare, others worried how long their childcare service will last.
"I think it's better to be proactive than trying to react," said Jennifer Mills, who is a respiratory therapist at the Waterville Hospital outside Woodstock.
Her husband, Bradley, works for the Woodstock Fire Department. Their daughter Ella, is in Grade 2.
"We're both shift workers so we already have a component of trickiness," she said. "And then this added, I'm not sure what I'm going to do."
Right now, the Mills are grateful for a private home in the area that cares for Ella, with at least five other children.
But they're not sure how long that service will last.
Cases across Canada
On Monday, the Canada Border Services Agency said on Twitter that it is adding additional screening measures at all international airports.
There are more than 340 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country, with one known death linked to the virus. B.C. and Ontario — the only two provinces that are currently offering information on the number of people who have recovered — list a combined total of nine "resolved" cases.
What to do if you have any symptoms?
Symptoms of coronavirus can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. With any of these, residents should:
- Stay at home.
Immediately call Tele-Care 811.
Describe symptoms and travel history.
Follow instructions carefully.
With files from Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, Danielle McCreadie, Rachel Cave