N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 4 new cases, computer glitch sees some book 2nd vaccine dose early
Eligibility date was expanded in error to May 16 instead of May 1, but appointments will be honoured
- 61 active cases
- Avignon and Témiscouata residents should register
- Province welcomes visitors from across Canada
- 44 more community transmission cases
- Latest public exposure
- Previous public exposures
- What to do if you have a symptom
The province reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and continued to encourage eligible New Brunswickers to get their second dose of a COVID vaccine.
But there was some confusion about exactly to whom that referred.
In a news release issued around 4 p.m., Public Health reminded people who received their first dose before May 1, they can book an appointment for their second dose online through a Horizon or Vitalité Health Network clinic, or through a participating pharmacy.
The online system, however, indicated people who got their first shot prior to May 16 are now eligible.
That was an error, said Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry.
"It was up for a couple of hours with a different date," he said in an emailed statement. "For anyone who booked during that time, appointments will be honoured."
Berry could not say how many appointments were booked during that period.
Some pharmacies were calling people to bump up their second-dose appointments too.
"Currently, booking is open for anyone who received their first dose prior to May 1," Berry reiterated.
Under plans announced earlier this month, eligibility for second dose appointments will be extended to include everyone Monday, as long as at least 28 days have passed since their first dose.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she expects to see more cases of COVID-19 now that the province has entered Phase 2 of its path to green, with eased travel restrictions and border measures.
"This is why it's important for all New Brunswickers who are able to get their second dose to do so once they are eligible," she said in a statement. "Those who are not vaccinated will be at highest risk for having severe symptoms and hospitalization."
Public Health asks people to book an appointment for their second dose at the same pharmacy or clinic where they received their first dose, if possible.
"If you received Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, you can book an appointment for either vaccine for your second dose. They work the same way and have similar levels of safety and effectiveness," it said in a news release.
People should bring a signed consent form, their medicare card and a copy of the record of immunization they received when they got their first shot.
First-dose appointments continue to be available to all New Brunswickers aged 12 and older.
61 active cases
New Brunswick has 61 active cases of COVID-19, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.
Six people are hospitalized in the province, including two who are in an intensive care unit.
Here is a breakdown of the four new cases reported Thursday:
Fredericton region, Zone 3, three cases:
- A person 19 or under
- A person 50 to 59
- A person 60 to 69
Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case:
- A person 60 to 69
All four cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
New Brunswick has had 2,309 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 2,202 recoveries so far and 45 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 354,805 tests had been conducted, including 1,171 on Wednesday.
Avignon and Témiscouata residents should register
New Brunswick is urging residents of Avignon and Témiscouata, Que., and New Brunswickers returning home from travel to these regional counties to register their travel "so border officials can more easily determine if travellers are from these areas.
"This helps make screening faster at crossings and will keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible," the government said in a news release Thursday.
"These travellers are exempt from isolation, regardless of their vaccination status, provided that they have not been outside of these areas in the previous 14 days."
Only travel within the four Atlantic provinces is exempt from registration.
Province welcomes visitors from across Canada
New Brunswick welcomed travellers from across Canada under Phase 2 of its COVID-19 path to green recovery plan Thursday.
Atlantic Canadians can now visit without prior approval and without any isolation or testing.
No isolation or testing is required for people from the rest of the country who have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, but they must register.
People who are unvaccinated are also allowed in, but they have to self-isolate and take a COVID test between days five and seven with negative results before they can end their isolation. This requirement does not apply to children under 12 because they're too young to be eligible for a vaccine.
"As long as all of those people travelling with children under 12 have been vaccinated [with at least one dose], the group can travel with no impact," the province posted on Twitter in response to a citizen's question about his grandchildren coming to visit.
The changes took effect at midnight Wednesday after the province hit its vaccination targets two weeks ahead of schedule, with 20.2 per cent of people aged 65 and older vaccinated with two doses and 75.4 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers aged 12 and older vaccinated with one dose.
As of Thursday, the vaccination rates had risen to 22.5 per cent and 75.7 per cent, respectively.
"With each passing day, we are reducing the risk of new outbreaks of COVID-19 in New Brunswick," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday.
"But we will not be able to eliminate that risk entirely while there still is a global pandemic happening. In the weeks ahead, we all need to remain vigilant."
She encourages everyone to get fully vaccinated as quickly as possible, to continue to follow Public Health measures, such as wearing a mask in public indoor places, maintaining two metres of physical distance from others, and regular hand washing, and to get tested if they develop symptoms.
"We are well on our way to green," the restriction-free stage, currently scheduled for Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day. "Let's make sure we get there together, healthy and safe."
To reach Phase 3, 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers must be fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, that figure stood at 14.2 per cent.
Some of the other changes that took effect Thursday under Phase 2 include:
- Businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and salons, are allowed to operate at full capacity if they maintain a contact list of patrons. Masks are still required when it's not possible to maintain a distance of two metres, if patrons are not eating or drinking.
- Organized sports games and competitions can include teams from outside Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Cumberland County in Nova Scotia, and Avignon and Témiscouata, subject to travel requirements.
44 more community transmission cases
Public Health has confirmed 44 more cases of community transmission, according to figures released by the Department of Health.
The cases had previously been among the 297 listed as "under investigation."
Fifteen per cent of those have now been classified as community transmission, confirmed department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.
They occurred in the Moncton region, Zone 1, the Saint John region, Zone 2, the Fredericton region, Zone 3, and the Edmundston region, Zone 4, he said.
More than half of them — 52 per cent — were in the Edmundston region. The majority of those, 84 per cent, occurred between mid-December 2020 and March 31.
"The backlog of cases listed 'under investigation' was due to the large number of cases observed in that time period," said Macfarlane. Earlier this month, the backlog had reached 326 cases, the highest number of unresolved cases throughout the pandemic.
"The large number of these  cases classified as either travel or contacts of cases demonstrate the importance of a proper investigative period in order to establish links as new information becomes available," he said.
Seventy per cent of the backlog — about 208 cases — were in the Edmundston region, with the origin of "the majority" being deemed a close contact, he said.
Going forward, to avoid another large backlog, if "no evident sources are found within a reasonable time period, cases will be classified per the best available knowledge at that point in time," said Macfarlane. He did not define "reasonable period."
As of Thursday, the origin of 40 cases is still under investigation. A total of 1,712 have been classified as close contact, 484 travel-related and 73 community transmission.
Latest public exposure
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the coronavirus in the Bathurst region, Zone 6:
- Emelien Savoie Workshop – Boat Repair, 11 Centre St., Pigeon Hill, June 5 to June 11.
Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811.
People experiencing one or more symptoms are also encouraged to get tested.
Previous public exposures
Public Health has identified numerous potential public exposures to the coronavirus in many communities across the province, so many that it has stopped listing them individually in its daily news release.
A detailed list of the potential exposures, including the locations and dates, is available on the government's COVID-19 website. It is updated regularly.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
Fever above 38 C.
New cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should:
Stay at home.
Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.
Describe symptoms and travel history.
With files from Danielle McCreadie