N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Province reopens to all Canadians at midnight, 3 new cases
Province enters Phase 2 of path to green at midnight, 1 day after entering Phase 1
- 58 active cases, lowest since mid-March
- Atlantic COVID update
- Oromocto apartment building outbreak grows to 12
- Outbreak over at Shediac special care home
- COVID testing available at Moncton airport
- National vaccine roll out to hit milestone
- Latest public exposure
- Previous public exposures
New Brunswick will reopen to all Canadians at midnight Wednesday, after the province hit its Phase 2 COVID-19 path to green vaccination target, just one day after hitting its first.
A total of 20.2 per cent of people aged 65 and older have now received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75.4 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, Premier Blaine Higgs announced.
The original target for Phase 2 of the recovery plan was 20 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively, by July 1.
"New Brunswick is indeed on the move," Higgs told a live news conference, the second in two days to announce progress in moving the province to the green, restriction-free stage, when the state of emergency order will also end.
"Green is closer than ever."
Among the changes under Phase 2:
- No isolation or testing will be required for those travelling to New Brunswick from the Atlantic provinces, including all of Nova Scotia, or Avignon and Témiscouata, Que.
- No isolation or testing will be required for Canadian residents with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Unvaccinated Canadians from outside the Atlantic provinces, or Avignon or Témiscouata, Que., will be allowed in, but they will be required to isolate and take a COVID-19 test between days five and seven before they can discontinue isolation.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said some people might find this next phase "particularly challenging and probably a little bit anxiety-provoking."
We must keep going so that we get as many New Brunswickers fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.- Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health
With more people moving into and around the province, there will be more opportunities for the virus to spread, she said.
The new and more contagious variants also increase the risk of outbreaks among those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
So while the province has passed "two important milestones" in its campaign to protect New Brunswickers against COVID-19 in the past two days, it can't stop now, Russell said.
"We must keep going so that we get as many New Brunswickers fully vaccinated as quickly as possible."
"Until this is done, we cannot let our guard down." She urged people to continue to follow Public Health measures, such as wearing a mask in public places, maintaining a physical distance of two metres, and regular handwashing.
Asked how much of an increase in cases she expects to see or how many would result in restrictions being reintroduced, Russell couldn't say.
But she did say given the high vaccination rate, she expects hospitalizations and ICU admissions to remain low because if the cases occur in vaccinated people they will likely have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic.
"We don't feel we're putting the citizens of our province under any risk at all that can't be managed within the realm of COVID," Higgs told reporters.
"We're just recognizing the great work they've done to get us to this stage and the great work we're confident they will continue to do to keep us safe by continuing to follow the rules and to be vaccinated at unprecedented levels that's leading the country."
Higgs noted nearly 13 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have now been vaccinated with two doses.
"This continued activity could allow us to reach the green stage earlier than expected,"he said.
Phase 3 calls for a double-dose vaccination rate of 75 per cent by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day.
Other changes under Phase 2 include:
Travellers from outside the Atlantic provinces will be required to show their registration and proof of vaccination when crossing into New Brunswick from Quebec or at an airport.
Travellers should anticipate delays entering the province at the Quebec border and consider crossing outside of peak hours, during the evening or at night if possible to avoid traffic, the province advised.
Travellers will no longer have to isolate at designated hotels.
Rotational workers and their households will no longer need to self-isolate upon their return to New Brunswick.
Businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and salons, will be allowed to operate at full capacity if they maintain a contact list of patrons. Masks will still be 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.
Travellers from Maine with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed into the province with no isolation required, pending changes to the federal regulations.
International travellers with two doses will not be required to isolate, pending changes to federal regulations, while those with one dose or no vaccination will be subject to 14-day isolation, with a test on day 10.
58 active cases
New Brunswick has three new cases of COVID-19, the chief medical officer of health announced Wednesday.
- Moncton region, Zone 1, a person 30 to 39.
- Fredericton region, Zone 3, a person 70 to 79.
- Bathurst region, Zone 6, a person 60 to 69.
All three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, said Dr. Jennifer Russell.
There are now 58 active cases of COVID-19, the lowest active case count since mid-March, she said.
Six people are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in an intensive care unit.
New Brunswick has had 2,305 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 2,201 recoveries so far and 45 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 353,634 tests had been conducted, including 1,128 on Tuesday.
Atlantic COVID update
The impact New Brunswick's decision to push ahead with opening up to all of Canada will have on a regional travel agreement among the Atlantic premiers remains unclear.
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said at the time he would ideally like to see all four provinces allow regional travel for some time before opening up to the rest of Canada on the same date.
"Without knowing exactly when New Brunswick will open to Canada, we won't know how we'll determine our next steps," he said. "But we'll ensure that we keep Nova Scotians safe and we won't take any undue risks," he said.
Asked Wednesday what this could mean for New Brunswickers who want to travel to Nova Scotia, Premier Blaine Higgs said he advised his fellow premiers about a week ago that he had committed to reopen to Canadians if vaccination targets were reached.
"I know that we have been the gateway to the Atlantic region … and we'll continue to do that, even with this opening," he said. "We continue to have a situation where we'll be requiring registrations," he said.
"If the individual Atlantic provinces want to go further than that, I mean, that would be certainly up to them to do so. But I don't think that will be necessary."
Higgs said he expects the premiers to discuss opening up to Canada Thursday night.
"I just think we're only talking a couple of days or a couple weeks at the outside here when we could have a little difference of situation in each province," he said. "But we're all going to get there."
Nova Scotia, which reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and has 92 active cases, is on track to open to the rest of Canada by July 14 at the latest. On Tuesday, Rankin said that could be bumped up to early July if the vaccination rates keep rising and if there's a system in place to validate proof of traveller vaccination status.
Prince Edward Island, which has reported no new cases since June 3 and has zero active cases, plans to welcome Canadians from outside Atlantic Canada on July 28. Fully vaccinated people will be exempt from self-isolation, and visitors with one dose will have a modified self-isolation plan.
Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported one new case Wednesday and has 35 active cases, aims to lift its 15-month travel ban on residents from other parts of the country on July 1, permitting fully vaccinated people from across Canada to enter without testing or quarantine, and requiring visitors with one dose to self-isolate only until they produce a negative COVID-19 test.
Oromocto apartment building outbreak grows to 12
Twelve cases of COVID-19 have now been linked to an outbreak at an apartment building in Oromocto, according to the Department of Health.
Another round of testing for residents of Vida Living, at 100 Lanark St., was to occur Wednesday, said department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.
Public Health declared the outbreak on June 9, after CBC asked about the situation.
Residents were first notified of three positive cases in the building on June 2, according to a letter obtained by CBC.
Confirmed cases and close contacts were directed by Public Health to self-isolate, and other tenants were directed to minimize their contacts and movements and provided with regular testing, Macfarlane previously said.
Public Health is investigating the source, "including possible air circulation and surface transmission components," he has said.
Outbreak over at Shediac special care home
Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak over at Ti Bons Soins, a memory care home in the Moncton region, Zone 1.
Staff and residents were retested several times to confirm the end of the outbreak, according to a news release.
The outbreak had been declared on May 25, following a confirmed COVID-19 case at the facility.
COVID testing available at Moncton airport
COVID -19 testing is available to air travellers at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport as of Wednesday.
A new tenant, Distribution Ad Valorem, is offering the testing as part of a 12-week pilot project with its New Brunswick partner Soins PROXYMA Care.
"We welcome their presence to assist the travelling public in meeting the regulatory requirements of the destinations they may be travelling to in regards to being able to provide proof of a negative COVID test," Bernard LeBlanc, president and CEO of the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority Inc., said in a statement.
"This may become even more critical in the next few weeks as the province of [New Brunswick] eases travel restrictions within Atlantic Canada, the rest of Canada, and internationally."
People planning to travel to the U.S., for example, need to get tested no more than three days before their flight and show negative results to the airline prior to boarding the plane, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery, the airport authority noted in a news release. Such proof could be a recent positive viral test and a letter from their health-care provider or a public health official stating that one is cleared to travel.
Without such information, travellers could be denied boarding. Rules vary by jurisdiction.
Distribution Ad Valorem is offering three COVID-19 screening services, including the rapid antigen detection test, the molecular rapid detection test (NAAT) and the PCR test, said president Marie-Pierre Beaubien. The rapid test results take 15 minutes, while the PCR test results take between 24 and 48 hours.
The cost ranges from $149 to $299, plus HST, and includes a certificate of attestation of results.
"The goal is to provide travellers with a fast and efficient full service directly at the airport, ensuring they meet national and international COVID-19 testing requirements," Annie Francoeur, CEO of PROXYMA Care, said in a statement.
"Services are offered both on departure and arrival. Travellers can be tested in the hours before their flight — the same day or 48 to 72 hours before their trip, depending on the test chosen."
The screening centre, located just prior to clearing security, is open from Monday to Friday, from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m., and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Additional time slots will be added in the coming days, the release said.
The pilot project could also be extended beyond the 12 weeks, depending on the demand, it said.
People interested in the service can book a test online.
National vaccine rollout to hit milestone
Canada's COVID-19 vaccine roll out is expected to hit a major milestone Wednesday.
The number of doses administered nationwide will reach 30 million.
More than five million Canadians are now fully vaccinated with two doses. That's about 14 per cent of the eligible population.
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.