New Brunswick

By the numbers: A look at New Brunswick's first year with COVID-19

COVID-19 — a year in review. From the highest highs and the lowest lows, a look at the statistics of New Brunswick's first year with the disease.

Province adds enforcement numbers to dashboard

New Brunswick reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters)

A lot has happened since this time last February, when New Brunswickers began bracing themselves for the arrival of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, 1,264 people have recovered from it. Twenty-four people have died. 

For New Brunswick, things got real on March 11, when the province reported its first case, which was also the first case in Atlantic Canada. The woman, identified as being in her 50s, had travelled from France.

Since then, New Brunswick's case counts have waxed and waned, but even on our worst day — just three weeks ago, when the province had the highest number of active cases to date — we were still doing pretty well compared to the rest of the country. 

According to statistics provided by the Department of Health, New Brunswick had 350 active cases on Jan. 25.

That's a rate of 45 per 100,000 population. On the same day, Canada's rate was 164, and the hardest hit province at that time was Saskatchewan, which had an infection rate of 278, or more than six times New Brunswick's. 

Compare that with Newfoundland and Labrador's current rate of infection of 57, and we still look pretty good. 

This graphic from Health Canada shows a comparative snapshot of provincial case rates on Jan. 25, when New Brunswick recorded its highest active case count since the pandemic began. (Government of Canada)

16 days without a new case

Plus, there have been some relatively good times since COVID-19 arrived in the province, including long stretches without new cases being announced. Our longest was 16 days, from April 19 to May 4. 

We also saw three 15-day stretches without a new case reported — but that hasn't happened since the summer. 

By early October, case counts were on the rise again. They would continue to climb steadily throughout the fall, including an outbreak at a Moncton long-term care home, and the dreaded "super spreader" event in Saint John that would eventually send the entire health region back to orange.

This image from the COVID-19 dashboard shows cases begin to soar after New Year's Day before peaking on Jan. 25. (Government of New Brunswick)

Then came the holidays. 

After dipping to a low of 24 active cases in the province on New Year's Day, cases counts began to soar, and the whole province was soon moved back to the orange phase of recovery — and then red for some regions, and total lockdown for the Edmundston zone, which peaked at 173 active cases on Feb. 2.

Edmundston, with six per cent of the province's population, had 65 per cent of its cases on that day. 

The following chart shows the active case rates and total case rates for each of the province's seven zones, based on population numbers provided by the Department of Health and on current case counts. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
RegionPopulationActive casesActive case rate*Cases to dateRate of cases to date*
Moncton222,694115332149
Saint John176,28053222126
Fredericton183,42142238130
Edmundston48,25495197398825
Campbellton25,19900182722
Bathurst78,858342734
Miramichi42,12100819

*per 100,000 population

Longest stretch without an active case

Since COVID-19 was first confirmed in New Brunswick last March 11, the longest stretch without any active cases was six days — from May 16 to 21.  And the last time the province had no known cases was Aug. 4, when we enjoyed a two-day run without any known cases in the whole province. 

Then there's the other side of the spectrum. 

Highest single-day

The highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day in New Brunswick was 36 on Jan. 17. For eight days, new case counts continued to pile up until our all-time high was hit on Jan. 25. 

This graphic shows the rate of total cases per 100,000 population as of Feb. 16, the latest day available. (Government of Canada)

59 straight days

According to the province's COVID-19 dashboard, the last time New Brunswick went a day without announcing a new case was Dec. 20 — that's 59 straight days of new cases as of Wednesday.

Highest number of tests

A so-called super-spreader event in Saint John culminated with the highest number of tests done in a single day — 2,405 on Dec. 2.

Highest hospitalizations

A series of outbreaks in the Edmundston region, including several at long-term care homes, would lead to the highest number of hospitalizations at one time — eight on Feb. 6. 

The highest number of admissions in one day was three. 

While the New Brunswick Department of Health did not provide a breakdown of ages of those hospitalized, Health Canada reports that those over 80 represent one-third of all hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the country. 

Most affected

According to figures provided by the province, the age group with the highest number of cases is 50 to 59.

Nationally, however, those in their 20s represent the largest percentage of cases at 18.7 per cent, according to Health Canada's website

Eighty per cent of those dying from COVID-19 in New Brunswick are over 70, and half of all deaths have been people in their 80s. Here's the breakdown of New Brunswick's 24 COVID-19 deaths:

  • 40 to 49 — 2

  • 60 to 69 — 3

  • 70 to 79 — 7

  • 80 to 89 — 12

Schools and nursing homes

So far, 35 schools and 13 nursing homes have reported positive cases of COVID-19, although each has played out very differently. 

While several nursing homes have experienced exponential spread of the virus and several deaths as a result, in-school spread has been rare. 

On Wednesday, the province added this new section to the dashboard. Users can locate numbers for specific regions by using the tabs on the bottom. (Government of New Brunswick)

Additions to dashboard

On Wednesday, the province added a whole new section to the dashboard. The new section, on the lower right side of the page, includes details about enforcement and compliance, including self-isolation checks and mask usage. Users can scroll through separate information for each zone.

Under the heading for self-isolation, it shows that nine tickets have been issued since Jan. 16, two in the Fredericton zone and seven in the Saint John zone. Saint John appears to have the worst self-isolation compliance rate, at 89 per cent, while zones 3 and 4 each boast 97 per cent compliance. 

Mask usage since Jan. 1 appears high everywhere, with a low of 95 per cent in the Campbellton region, or Zone 5. 

The new section indicates that the province conducted nearly 2,000 verification checks for self-isolation since Jan. 16. The majority of them — or 1,132 — were done in the Moncton region. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Urquhart is a CBC reporter based in Saint John. She can be reached at mia.urquhart@cbc.ca.

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