N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 90 new cases, vaccine doses for young children arrive next week
Details of rollout plan to be announced next week
- Outbreak declared at Ridgewood Veterans Wing
- 37 cases at prison
- 607 active cases
- New household isolation rules take effect at 6 p.m.
- Circuit breakers end at 6 p.m.
- Cases confirmed at school, 2 child-care facilities
- Atlantic COVID roundup
New Brunswick has 90 new cases of COVID-19 and is expected to receive the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for young children next week, Public Health announced Friday afternoon.
COVID-19 vaccination eligibility in the province will be expanded to include children aged five to 11 as soon as the special child vaccines arrive, according to a news release.
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group Friday morning, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended its use.
Until Friday, only people aged 12 or older were approved for vaccination.
"Today's approval means we are one step closer to further protecting our children and our communities," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said in a statement.
There are 54,000 children aged five to 11 in New Brunswick.
More than 2.9 million doses of Comirnaty — enough to provide a first dose to every eligible Canadian child — will arrive in Canada by the end of the week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said.
New Brunswick's rollout of the pediatric vaccines will be similar to the existing system, with regional health authority vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies both playing a role, according to the release from Public Health.
Details will be announced next week.
The province will also provide information and resources on vaccine safety and availability in the coming days to help parents and guardians make informed decisions, Shephard said.
"With the approval of the pediatric vaccine now in place, we are encouraging New Brunswickers to start having family conversations about how vaccination works and how it protects the health and well-being of our families, friends and classmates," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.
Clinical trials showed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 90.7 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in younger children and that no serious side effects were identified, according to Health Canada.
"After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age outweigh the risks," Health Canada wrote in a release Friday.
Health Canada's chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the approval comes at a "critical time" in the pandemic, with incident rates among children under 12 rising during the third and fourth waves.
In New Brunswick, a total of 985 children under age 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 to date, according to the COVID-19 dashboard. Another 929 between the ages of 10 and 19 have also tested positive, the dashboard shows. How many of them are aged five to 11 is not indicated, nor is when they tested positive, but the majority of the infections have occurred since school started in September.
"While children are less likely to experience complications, they can still get very sick," Sharma told a briefing Friday. "Although the risk of severe illness is lower in children than in adults, it's still there.
"And rarely some children go on to develop multi-inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C, which has a very high risk [of] requiring hospitalization," she said.
MIS-C can be triggered by COVID-19, causing severe inflammation in organs such as the heart and kidneys weeks after an infection. Symptoms of MIS-C can include fever, rash, red eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
"Emerging data also suggests that children with COVID-19, regardless of the severity, can develop long COVID, or post-COVID symptoms that may continue for months," said Sharma.
"And children, like adults, can spread the virus."
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "provides another tool to protect Canadians and to the relief of many parents will help bring back a degree of normality to children's lives allowing them to more safely do the things that they have missed during the last 20 months," she said.
Pfizer-BioNTech's pediatric vaccine is delivered in doses one-third the size of those given to people 12 and older. Health Canada authorized a two-dose regimen to be administered three weeks apart.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), however, recommends the spacing between doses be increased to at least eight weeks, as evidence has been growing that a longer interval generates a more robust immune response. The longer spacing might also help to decrease even further the risk of the rare side effect of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), NACI said.
A recent Angus Reid Institute survey of Canadian parents with children aged five to 11 found 51 per cent said they would immediately vaccinate their children when a pediatric dose became available, while 23 per cent said they would never give their children a COVID-19 vaccine and 18 per cent said they would eventually vaccinate but "wait a while."
In the Atlantic region, 50 per cent of respondents said they would get their children vaccinated right away, while 15 per cent said they would not vaccinate their children and 25 per cent said they would wait.
There were 812 respondents to this question, including 128 in the Atlantic provinces. The online survey, which was commissioned and paid for by the Angus Reid Institute, was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3.
Outbreak declared at Ridgewood Veterans Wing
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Ridgewood Veterans Health Wing in Saint John, the Horizon Health Network announced Friday.
The 80-bed facility is for veterans who require long-term care.
There are two confirmed cases, both involving staff members, Horizon spokesperson Kris McDavid said in an emailed statement.
All patients are isolated to their rooms, he said.
The results of COVID-19 testing of patients and staff are pending, with another round of testing scheduled for Monday, McDavid said.
The outbreak is not linked to any Remembrance Day services, according to McDavid.
The first case was detected on Wednesday, he said. Public Health reported a potential public exposure to COVID-19 at the facility at 422 Bay St., on that day.
Staff are following enhanced infection prevention and control guidelines, according to a news release issued by Horizon.
The designated support person program is suspended and existing visitor restrictions remain in place.
In addition, there will be no patient admissions or transfers to or from Ridgewood.
Infection prevention and control "precautions are the best measures for reducing COVID-19 transmission," Margaret Melanson, Horizon's vice-president of quality and patient-centred care, said in a statement.
"We are doing everything we can to ensure we are providing safe and quality care to our patients, clients and their families and protecting our health care workers."
Horizon said it understands it is difficult for families and friends to be separated from their loved ones and encourages people to use technology to connect with patients.
Staff are working diligently to provide care and comfort to patients during the outbreak, it said.
37 cases at prison
There is a COVID-19 outbreak at Dorchester Penitentiary.
Thirty-four inmates and three staff members from the medium-security unit have tested positive on either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) lab test or a rapid test, Correctional Service Canada confirmed early Friday evening.
"We are closely monitoring the situation, and measures are in place to minimize the spread of the virus within the institution," it said in a news release.
Contact tracing is ongoing and testing is being offered to inmates and staff within the medium-security unit.
"CSC is currently using rapid tests to help detect positive cases more quickly and take necessary actions accordingly," the release said.
The medium-security unit is rated to house 397 male inmates, according to the CSC's website, while the minimum-security unit is rated to house 302 inmates.
Nearly 86 per cent of inmates in the medium-level security unit are fully vaccinated, and more than 88 per cent have received their first dose, according to the release.
CSC officials did not respond to a request for information Friday about when the first case was detected, where the infected inmates are being housed, or whether any require hospitalization.
The number of staff off work isolating because they've been identified as close contacts and any impact on operations is also unclear.
"This is an evolving situation and we will continue to apply infection prevention and control measures to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 and adapt based on public health advice," the release said.
CSC has increased cleaning and disinfecting throughout the prison, and provided staff with face shields in addition to the medical masks they are inmates already wear.
People entering the prison continue to be screened for COVID-19.
In-person family visits are suspended, but video and telephone visits are available to inmates, the release said.
607 active cases
The 90 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed Friday and 49 recoveries put the province's active case count at 607.
Fifty-seven of the new cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, Public Health said.
Twenty-eight people are in hospital because of the virus, including 16 in intensive care, an increase of two.
A total of 87.3 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated, up from 87.1 per cent, and 93.3 per cent have received their first dose, unchanged.
The regional breakdown of the new cases includes:
Moncton region, Zone 1 — 45 cases:
- A person 19 or under
- Three people 20 to 29
- 13 people 30 to 39
- Eight people 40 to 49
- Nine people 50 to 59
- Eight people 60 to 69
- Three people 70 to 79
Thirty-four of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and 11 cases are under investigation.
Saint John region, Zone 2 — 21 cases:
- Seven people 19 or under
- A person 20 to 29
- Two people 30 to 39
- A person 40 to 49
- Two people 50 to 59
- Five people 60 to 69
- Two people 70 to 79
- A person 90 or over
Fifteen of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and six cases are under investigation.
Fredericton region, Zone 3 — 11 cases:
- Three people 19 or under
- A person 20 to 29
- Four people 30 to 39
- Two people 40 to 49
- A person 50 to 59
Nine of these cases are under investigation and the other two are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Edmundston region, Zone 4 — two cases:
- A person 30 to 39
- A person 50 to 59
Both of these cases are under investigation.
Miramichi region, Zone 7 — 11 cases:
- Three people 19 or under
- A person 20 to 29
- Five people 30 to 39
- Two people 70 to 79
Six of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and five cases are under investigation.
A total of 543,559 COVID-19 tests have been done to date, including 1,381 on Thursday.
New Brunswick has had 7,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 6,782 recoveries so far and 122 COVID-related deaths.
New household isolation rules take effect at 6 p.m.
All members of a household with a positive case of COVID-19 must isolate for up to 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status, effective at 6 p.m. Friday.
The new rule was announced Thursday by Premier Blaine Higgs to address where spread is occurring.
Household members who are fully vaccinated will be released from isolation with a negative PCR test on Day 5. A PCR test on Day 10 will also be required to confirm the negative result.
"As we have done throughout the pandemic, measures are put in place that strive to find a balance between having life as normal as possible while reducing the risk of COVID-19 cases overwhelming our hospital system," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement Friday.
"Right now, a significant portion of new cases are from transmission within households, which is why we are adjusting our strategy to target that spread."
Anyone who violates a Public Health order to self-isolate faces a fine of between $480 and $20,400.
Circuit breakers end at 6 p.m.
The COVID-19 circuit breakers in the Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe areas of Zone 1 and in the Miramichi region, Zone 7, will end at 6 p.m. Friday.
All restrictions on private gatherings and on travel to and from these areas will be lifted.
The measures were in place to try to limit the spread of the virus and to reduce hospitalizations.
Cases confirmed at school, 2 child-care centres
A new case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at St. Stephen High School in the Saint John region, Zone 2, the COVID-19 dashboard shows.
There are now four schools actively impacted by the virus.
A total of 457 cases have been confirmed at 125 schools since the beginning of the school year.
A case of COVID-19 has also been confirmed at Daley Day Care 2 in the Moncton region, Zone 1, which was not previously affected, and at YMCA Afterschool - Moncton, also in Zone 1.
People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case will be notified directly by Public Health or the child-care centre for contact tracing, Public Health said.
Since Sept. 7, 83 early learning and child-care centres have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases has not been released.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and has 223 active cases. Fifteen people are in hospital with the virus, including seven in intensive care.
Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed four new cases and has 19 active cases.
Prince Edward Island announced three new cases and has 12 active cases.
Public exposure notices
Public Health issued several new public exposure notices Friday for the Moncton region, Zone 1, including the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital emergency department waiting room on Nov. 12, the Moncton Hospital's outpatient care clinic C on Nov. 12, and Canadian Plasma Resources on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12.
There are also new notices for the Saint John region, Zone 2, Edmundston region, Zone 4, and Miramichi region, Zone 7.
For the full list of new and previous public exposure notices, please visit the provincial government's website.
People who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure and who have symptoms should 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 results come back negative, people 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.