New Brunswick

N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Parts of Miramichi health zone going into circuit breaker

Thanks to a sharp increase in cases in the Miramichi area, most of Zone 7 will begin circuit breaker measures at 6 p.m. on Friday. 

69 new cases announced on Wednesday

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell spoke at Wednesday's COVID-19 update. (Government of New Brunswick/YouTube)


  • 69 new cases
  • Zone 1 concerns
  • Booster shots extended
  • Breakdown of new cases
  • Don't ditch your masks yet
  • Public exposures

Thanks to a sharp increase in cases in the Miramichi area, most of Zone 7 will begin circuit breaker measures at 6 p.m. on Friday. 

There are a couple of areas that are exempt from the restrictions — Black River Bridge and communities to the east;  Murray Settlement and areas south; and New Jersey and communities north.

Zone 2, the Saint John area, meanwhile will emerge from its circuit breaker on Friday at 6 p.m. 

Zone 1's circuit breaker will continue for another week, but only in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. 

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said circuit-breaker measures have proven effective in most areas. 

"We have seen a decline in the number of new cases across the province, and our active caseload has been reduced by half. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions have also declined," she said during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. 

A sharp increase in the number of cases in the Miramichi area has resulted in most parts of Zone 7 moving into circuit-breaker measures at 6 p.m. on Friday. (Government of New Brunswick)

Cases in Zone 7, however, "have risen sharply. And for that reason, it means that we will need a stronger effort to bend this curve."

She said the number of public exposures in Zone 7 is low, relative to the region's active case count, because most transmission is within households. 

The same continues to happen in Moncton, Zone 1. 

"More than half of the cases we have seen in this area are happening within households," Russell said. "We are seeing the virus spread within families and then spread again through social contacts."

"Now, if everyone was following the circuit breaker restrictions by limiting their close contacts to their immediate household, technically speaking, this outbreak should have been significantly reduced by this point." 

Russell said it illustrates how "a small number of people … can impact a larger group and a larger region, a larger zone, and the hospital system in general."

69 new cases

Public Health announced 69 new cases on Wednesday. With 44 recoveries, this brings the total number of active cases to 548. 

Hospitalizations are at 17 — up one from the previous day — and one more person is in ICU, for a total of 11. 

"This is a huge improvement over what we have seen over the past month, but we need to reduce these numbers even further before all restrictions can be lifted," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell.

Of the new cases, 39 people — or 57 per cent — are unvaccinated, and 30 people — or 43 per cent — are fully vaccinated.

Of the 11 people in an ICU, 10 are unvaccinated and one is fully vaccinated.

Of the 17 people in hospital, 13 are unvaccinated and four are fully vaccinated. There is currently no one 19 or under in the hospital.

(CBC News)

Russell said Wednesday's new case count is a bit inflated because of some earlier positive cases. 

"The reason for the increase in cases today is that a number of people whose infections were first detected by a rapid test have had results confirmed by our lab. As these individuals were already self-isolating, we are confident that the overall trend toward fewer cases should continue, which is why Public Health is comfortable lifting the circuit-breaker restrictions."

As of Wednesday, 86.2 per cent of New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated and 93 per cent have had at least one dose.

Russell said vaccinations are clearly making a difference. In the months before vaccinations were available, 12 per cent of COVID-19 cases were admitted to hospital.

"Since vaccines were introduced, that number has dropped to two per cent," she said.

"This means that while we see more cases of COVID 19, the number of infected people who will suffer severe impacts from the virus will be proportionately less."

Since the last report, 1,126 COVID tests have been done, for a total of 533,150 during the pandemic.

Booster shots extended

All New Brunswickers over the age of 65 are now eligible for a third vaccination shot as long as at least six months have passed since their second shot. 

Anyone who received AstraZeneca as their first or second shot is also eligible for an mRNA booster. 

Those who are required to travel internationally for work, education or health care are also eligible for a booster. 

"To receive this booster, you are required to provide a letter from your employer, physician or educational institution that demonstrates that your travel outside of North America is essential," explained Russell. 

Appointments for first and second doses, as well as a booster dose for those who are eligible, can be scheduled at a regional health authority vaccination clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy. Residents of First Nations communities can also book an appointment at a community clinic.

A list of upcoming clinics is available online.

Zone 1 concerns

Case numbers in the Moncton region, or Zone 1, continue to be a worry for Public Health a month after it was moved to a circuit breaker.

"I am very concerned for the Moncton area," said Shephard. "We have had a month of circuit-breaker restrictions and cases continue to be stubbornly high, with the major cause in more than half of those cases being household transmission.

"With one-household bubble in effect, we shouldn't be seeing that to these levels."

Shephard said Public Safety will be increasing enforcement efforts in the Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe area "to ensure those who are supposed to be isolating are doing so, and to make sure that no household gatherings are taking place.

"If you see violations of the rules, I encourage you to call 1-844-462-8387 or to email The health and safety of our communities is at stake."

Circuit breaker measures will continue for at least another week in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. Eleven of the 69 new cases were in Zone 1. (Government of New Brunswick. )

Breakdown of new cases

The 69 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed Wednesday are spread across all seven health regions:

Moncton region, Zone 1, 11 cases::

  • four people 19 and under

  • three people 20 to 29

  • a person 30 to 39

  • two people 50 to 59

  • a person 70 to 79

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

Saint John region, Zone 2, 21 cases:

  • eight people 19 and under

  • four people 20 to 29

  • two people 30 to 39

  • three people 40 to 49

  • two people 50 to 59

  • two people 60 to 69

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

Fredericton, Zone 3, 17 cases: 

  • three people 19 and under

  • five people 20 to 29

  • two people 30 to 39

  • three people 40 to 49

  • two people 50 to 59

  • a person 60 to 69

  • a person 70 to 79

Ten cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and seven are under investigation.

Edmundston region, Zone 4, one case: 

  • a person 19 and under

This case is under investigation.

Campbellton region, Zone 5, four cases::

  • two people 19 and under

  • a person 20 to 29

  • a person 40 to 49

Three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and one is under investigation.

Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: 

  • a person 19 and under

This is a contact of a previously confirmed case

Miramichi region, Zone 7, 14 cases: 

  • six people 19 and under

  • three people 20 to 29

  • two people 30 to 39

  • two people 50-59

  • a person 60 to 69

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

New case in a daycare

A case has been confirmed at PowerPlay Academy Moncton 5, a daycare facility in Zone 1.

According to Public Health, affected families have been notified. 

"If you are not notified directly, you have not been identified as a close contact," stated a news release from the province on Wednesday. 

Since Sept. 7, 69 early learning and child-care facilities have had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

No new cases were announced in schools on Tuesday and Wednesday., which are now in their second week of online learning. Before this week, the last time that happened was Sept 8, the day after school started, according to the Department of Education. 

Twenty-four schools are still actively affected, according to the dashboard. A total of 453 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at 122 schools since the beginning of the school year.

Don't ditch your masks yet

New Brunswickers who hoped to ditch their COVID-19 masks soon are out of luck, according to the health minister.

Masks are here to stay "for the foreseeable future," said Dorothy Shephard.

She made the comment to reporters Tuesday when asked what more the province can do to combat COVID-19, when new daily COVID-19 case counts continue to hover between roughly 40 and 50, and the Moncton region, Zone 1, in particular remains a concern, despite a month-long circuit breaker.

"Well, I think we always knew that in the end, we're going to be living with COVID. And that's the … important nuance that we've got, I think … to get to an acceptance of," she said.

"I also think that we know now, with the reality of what's happened with [the] delta [variant], that masks are in our future for the foreseeable future."

The highly transmissible variant is driving the fourth wave of the pandemic. It has also increased the vaccination target to achieve so-called herd immunity, where having a certain proportion of the population vaccinated protects others who aren't immunized.

The original goal was to have 75 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older fully vaccinated. The new target is to have at least 90 per cent of the total population — not just the eligible population — double-dosed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 75.9 per cent of the total population had received two doses, while 82 per cent had received one dose, according to the CBC tracker.

New Brunswickers … have a lot of power in preventing the spread of COVID and any of the variants. And so we just ask for their help every single day.- Dorothy Shephard, health minister

Shephard said household transmissions account for most new cases of COVID-19 in the province and urged everyone to keep their number of contacts as low as possible.

"And so I think only what we can do is to continue to remind New Brunswickers that, you know, they have a lot of power in preventing the spread of COVID and any of the variants. And so we just ask for their help every single day."

Masks have been mandatory in all indoor public spaces since Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. Public Health recommended the renewed mask mandate to ensure people could continue to have access to urgent care, intensive care beds, and hospital beds when they need it, Russell said at the time.

Public exposure notices

For the full list of new and previous public exposure notices, please visit the government of New Brunswick's website.

People who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure and who have symptoms should still get a COVID lab test. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811 and must isolate while waiting for their test result.

People who are not fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms, are now being instructed to pick up an At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Point of Care Test (Rapid POCT) screening kit. They do not need to isolate if they have not been directed by Public Health to do so.

All positive point of care test results must be confirmed with a laboratory polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test.

It can take up to 14 days to test positive after being exposed to COVID-19 so even if their results comes back negative, they should continue to self-monitor for any symptoms and get tested immediately if any develop.

They should also avoid visiting settings with vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes, correctional facilities and shelters during that 14-day period.

For people who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the possible exposure and get a COVID lab test if symptoms develop.

They do not need to isolate while they wait for their test results.

If they do not have symptoms, they can pick up a rapid test kit and do not need to isolate.

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 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.

With files from Jacques Poitras


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