N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 7 new cases, province hits 80% first-dose milestone
55% of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older now fully vaccinated
- 8 active cases
- AstraZeneca clinics
- Pop-up clinic targets Saint John newcomers
- Horizon seeks help with clinics
- Some international students will have to self-isolate
- Atlantic COVID roundup
After nine straight days of no new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, Public Health reported seven new cases on Thursday, all of them travel-related.
Six are in the Moncton region, Zone 1, and the other is in the Fredericton region, Zone 3.
"This sudden increase in cases shows us that we are not yet finished with COVID-19," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.
"That is why it is so important that New Brunswickers protect themselves and everyone around them from serious illness by getting fully vaccinated as soon as possible."
No information about the vaccination status of the positive cases, where they're from, or whether they were isolating when they tested positive has been released.
Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane declined to release any additional details.
"Public Health has a duty to protect every individual's rights to privacy and never shares information which could lead to potential identification of an individual or a group of individuals," he said in an emailed statement.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic Public Health has always taken a balanced approach when sharing information with the public, by providing sufficient information for the public to be able to protect themselves and others, while at the same time protecting every individual or group of individuals from being blamed or stigmatized."
Macfarlane did confirm the positive cases are isolating now and following Public Health directions.
Lab results to confirm which strain of COVID they're infected with are pending, he said.
"Public Health conducts a thorough investigation of each known case in order to determine its source of infection and take appropriate action to protect those infected and the public."
Under the current yellow COVID alert level rules, no isolation is required for people travelling from within the extended Atlantic region, which includes P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Avignon and Témiscouata, Que.
Canadian visitors from outside the extended Atlantic region who have received one dose of a vaccine do not need to isolate upon entering New Brunswick.
Canadians with no vaccine have to isolate, but a negative test between days five to seven releases them from isolation.
International travellers with no vaccine or only one dose must isolate for up to 14 days but can be released with a Day 10 negative test result.
More than 80 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Nearly 1,300 people received their first shot on Wednesday, pushing the total number of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older who have received one dose to 555,108, the COVID-19 dashboard shows.
Meanwhile more than 10,000 people rolled up their sleeves Wednesday for their second dose, bumping the total of double-dosed New Brunswickers to 381,703.
The province's goal under the path to green is to have 75 per cent of the eligible population double-dosed by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day.
Once the threshold is reached, the province will end the state of emergency mandatory order and lift all Public Health restrictions, provided COVID hospitalizations remain low and all health regions remain at the yellow COVID alert level.
The province is holding more mobile walk-in Moderna clinics this week to help make getting first and second doses more convenient.
Two clinics, one in Perth-Andover and the other in Dorchester, were held Thursday.
On Friday, the following clinics are being held:
- Plaster Rock — Tobique Lions Community Centre, 61 Everett Lane., between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Salisbury — Salisbury Baptist Church, 3128 Main St., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Anyone 12 or older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone who has received a first dose can get a second dose after 28 days. They don't have to wait for the 28 days to pass to schedule their appointment, Russell stressed.
They are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose.
People who booked an appointment but were able to get vaccinated sooner elsewhere are asked to cancel the appointment they no longer need.
8 active cases
New Brunswick has eight active cases of COVID-19, Public Health reported Thursday.
The seven new cases break down this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, six cases:
- A person 19 or under
- A person 20 to 29
- Four people 30 to 39
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
- A person 60 to 69.
No one is hospitalized in the province with the respiratory disease.
A total of 371,493 COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date, including 758 on Wednesday.
There have been 2,343 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick since the pandemic started, with 2,288 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
The Horizon and Vitalité health networks will be holding clinics for New Brunswickers who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for their first dose and wish to receive AstraZeneca as their second dose, with informed consent, Public Health announced Thursday.
The clinics come as the province has roughly 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca set to expire at the end of August, and approximately 200 more due to expire at the end of October.
Earlier this month, nearly 1,000 doses had to be destroyed because they expired.
New Brunswick has offered 8,000 of its doses for reallocation by the federal government, Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry told CBC News.
"Following the upcoming clinics there will be a better sense of additional doses available [to] identify to the federal government for reallocation."
The clinics are being offered across the province over the next two weeks "to ensure that anyone who chooses to get AstraZeneca as a second dose can access it," he said.
Berry could not immediately say how many of the 43,000 New Brunswickers who received AstraZeneca as their first dose are not yet fully vaccinated or estimate how many might be seeking a second dose of AstraZeneca.
But he did say that "many" are receiving Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna as their second dose.
As of mid-June, only about 4,100 of AstraZeneca recipients had received two doses, Berry had said at the time.
New Brunswick is following the June 1 recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, on the interchangeability, or mixing, of authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the two-dose vaccine series, said Berry.
"Those 18 years and older who received AstraZeneca/Covishield COVID-19 vaccine as a first dose can choose to receive either an AstraZeneca/Covishield COVID-19 vaccine or an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for the second dose," he said in an emailed statement.
On June 17, NACI updated its recommendations to say an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, was "preferred" as a second dose for AstraZeneca recipients, and mitigates the rare risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a rare condition that causes blood clots combined with low platelets.
Two New Brunswickers have died from VITT after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Two others also suffered blood clots following vaccination, but recovered.
"While we will continue to have some [AstraZeneca] doses available for individuals who may not be able to receive [an] mRNA vaccine … we are in discussions with the National Operating Centre to reallocate any doses that will not be required," Berry said.
The AstraZeneca clinics will be held on the following dates and locations:
- July 16 —Bathurst
- July 20 — Miramichi and Campbellton
- July 22 — Fredericton
- July 23 — Moncton and Bathurst
- July 26 — Edmundston, Grand Falls and Saint-Quentin
- July 28 — Saint John
People who are 55 and older can book an appointment online. Those who are under the age of 55 will need to register by calling 1-833-437-1424.
Pop-up clinic targets Saint John newcomers
A pop-up vaccination clinic was held at the Crescent Valley Resource Centre in Saint John's north end Thursday, targeting newcomers.
Pharmacist Jason Steeves helped organize the clinic after talking to one of his customers, who is an employee at the YMCA of Greater Saint John's Newcomer Connections. She told him many people in the area aren't vaccinated.
"Once the Department of Health got involved, they pulled some statistics and it seems that only about 30 per cent of the residents in this area and also the old north end have even had their first shot. So, you know that the numbers for second shots are therefore much lower than that," Steeves told CBC's Gary Moore.
"So there was a big gap and this was identified as a targeted population."
Anne Driscoll, executive director of the resource centre, said she thinks many people in the neighbourhood face "a lot of hurdles."
It has a high population of newcomers who arrived as refugees, she said, starting with more than 500 people from Syria in 2015.
"There are folks who may have young children and child care is an issue. They don't have transportation. Even walking to a pharmacy in the neighbourhood is difficult for some residents if they have mobility issues.
"There would be literacy issues, whether they speak English or not, or [they] don't have electronic devices to help them register for the vaccine," said Driscoll.
In some cases, "they're feeling a little bit unsure about getting the vaccine, so it's great to have folks right here and answer the questions for them."
People were lined up about 45 minutes before the clinic started at 1 p.m., said Driscoll. It was offering Moderna as first or second doses to people 18 or older.
Muhammad Almohymed, who arrived from Syria in February 2020, took advantage of the pop-up clinic to get his second shot.
"I am so happy I got both," Almohymed said through an Arabic translator.
"It is great to have the clinic here because I was thinking about how to get an appointment and how to get to the appointment," he said.
"I'm still new in the city here and don't know how to navigate locations so it was way easier for me to get here."
The Maclaren family also appreciated the clinic being in their neighbourhood.
"We live very close to here so it was very convenient that they actually set up shop here," said Adam Maclaren, who was with his parents Darren and Lesa. His mother liked that they didn't have to take a taxi.
Ellen Taylor thought the clinic was "fantastic." She had been trying to book a second-dose appointment at a local pharmacy where she received her first dose, but the pharmacy was "overwhelmed" with requests and Taylor was growing anxious.
"I just wanted to make sure I was fully covered," she said. "I'm 71 years old. I mean, come on now, I don't need to get COVID."
When Taylor heard about the pop-up clinic, she was "so relieved" she went to bed that night and "slept like a baby."
"They're doing a community service here having this clinic here today."
About 20 people were vaccinated within the first half-hour of the clinic, said Steeves.
He hoped to see about 100 people roll up their sleeves before it ended at 7 p.m., he said.
Another pop-up clinic will be held in the neighbourhood in about a month to administer second doses to people who received their first shots Thursday.
Horizon seeks help with clinics
The Horizon Health Network has issued a "call out" to staff, nursing and medical students, and retirees for clinical and non-clinical help with COVID-19 vaccination clinics, as the province's push to the green phase of recovery continues.
"Our clinic sizes are growing, and in order to continue to do this throughout the summer, we cannot get through this next stage without your continued support," says a June 30 memo to all staff and physicians, obtained by CBC News.
It is seeking clinical support at clinics in the Fredericton, Saint John, and Charlotte County areas.
For non-clinical support, it needs an appointment on-site scheduler in Saint John and "screeners" in the Charlotte County area.
Current employees willing to pick up additional shifts are encouraged to speak to their managers and can be added to the "redeployment tracker," the memo says. "Shift offers are filled with casual and part-time staff first and then with full-time staff if required."
External candidates should contact the Horizon redeployment centre.
Some international students will have to self-isolate
Plans are already underway to help international students returning to New Brunswick universities in the fall who may be required to self-isolate.
Only those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are exempt from quarantine.
That could impact students returning from China and India, among other countries.
St. Thomas University will help students isolate free of cost, said Ryan Sullivan, the associate vice-president of enrolment.
The university is keeping a close eye on how many students will be affected, he told CBC's Shift.
"We have a number of people coming from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, some of whom have been able to access the vaccines, others who will be waiting to do so when they arrive here in Canada — not waiting, but this will probably be their first opportunity to access them. So we're kind of working on those numbers now."
Mount Allison University and the University of New Brunswick are also working on plans for international students who might have to isolate.
Students living in residence at both campuses are permitted to isolate if required, according to officials. Both universities will also support students who need help creating an isolation plan.
Sullivan said Public Health and the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour are holding a weekly meeting with New Brunswick universities and colleges.
"That meeting allows us … to share what we're hearing, what we're seeing and then kind of making sure that we're all on the same page as to what we all need to do and look at, as much as possible, having a co-ordinated approach across the province."
Atlantic COVID roundup
Newfoundland and Labrador reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and a total of 46 active cases. Forty-five of the cases are on two ships anchored in Conception Bay.
Nova Scotia had no new cases, and the province's active case count dropped to 22.
Prince Edward Island has no active cases.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor, and follow instructions.