N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 4 new cases, vaccines available for people 50+
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell and Education Minister Dominic Cardy give briefing
- 850 people in self-isolation
- New treatment for adult COVID outpatients
- Special care home outbreak climbs to 49
- 'Teeny tiny chance' of cross-contamination at UNB Magee House
- George Street Middle School update
- Zone 4 orange level to be reassessed
- Edmundston hospital has 2 COVID patients
- Atlantic COVID roundup
- Latest exposure notifications
- Other possible exposures
- What to do if you have a symptom
New Brunswick announced four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and expanded eligibility for vaccines.
People 50 or older may now schedule an appointment online to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through the Horizon or Vitalité health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy, said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Anyone 16 or older with at least two chronic conditions, who may be more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, is also eligible, she said.
"I urge you to take whatever vaccine is offered."
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said all four approved vaccines "represent a miracle of modern science" and lashed out at the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, known as NACI, suggesting the national panel is "undermining our decisions about which vaccines to take."
On Monday, NACI, which advises the federal and provincial governments on how to use various vaccines, said because of rare cases of blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, people in low-risk parts of the country may want to wait for the chance to get the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
The mRNA vaccines are "preferred" over the viral-vector ones, the independent body composed of volunteer experts in fields such as pediatrics, infectious diseases, immunology, epidemiology and public health, said.
During Tuesday's COVID briefing, Cardy seemed to equate officials who "accidentally" undermine clear messaging on vaccines with anti-vaccination activists who spread disinformation deliberately.
"If a vaccine is approved by Public Health Canada and approved by Dr. Russell and her team, take that shot," Cardy said. "Ignore NACI, ignore anti-maskers, ignore the people undermining faith in science, and do your part for New Brunswick."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, also sought to reassure Canadians Tuesday that all vaccines approved for use in this country are safe and effective.
"We are continuing to recommend to everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get through this," Trudeau said.
"The impacts of catching COVID are far greater and far deadlier, as we've seen across the country, than potential side effects."
Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, each received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine last month.
Premier Blaine Higgs also got the AstraZeneca shot.
Cardy called on long-term care home workers in particular to "consider the lives of the people you care for each and every day, not abstract Facebook pages filled with conspiracies and foolishness, but real, live people."
He prefaced his comments by expressing condolences to the families of two residents of a special care home in Grand Falls, who died in the past couple of days as a result of COVID-19.
It's important for society "to take every measure possible" to protect its most vulnerable residents, he said. "Right now, that means one thing — get vaccinated and get vaccinated as soon as you're allowed."
Russell said she's "really happy with the enthusiasm" she has seen for the vaccines so far.
As of Monday, 250,000 eligible New Brunswickers had received at least one dose of vaccine, which she described as a "tremendous achievement."
"But we must and can do more."
The explosion of new COVID infections in neighbouring Nova Scotia in the past week underlines "it can happen anywhere, including here," Russell said, encouraging people not to wait to schedule a vaccine appointment.
"Our best hope in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 is to get vaccines into the arms of as many New Brunswickers as possible, as quickly as possible."
The province remains on schedule to get everyone vaccinated with one dose by the end of June, and Russell pledged no one will wait longer than 16 weeks before their second dose.
People must also continue to follow Public Health measures, such as wearing masks, maintaining a physical distance and handwashing, she said.
850 people in self-isolation
About 850 are in self-isolation across New Brunswick to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the chief medical officer of health said Tuesday.
Six people are in hospital with COVID-19, including two in intensive care.
There are 141 active cases of the respiratory disease in the province.
The breakdown of the four new cases announced Tuesday is as follows:
Moncton region, Zone 1: one case: a person 30 to 39.
Saint John region, Zone 2: one case: a person 40 to 49.
Fredericton region, Zone 3: one case: a person 20 to 29.
Bathurst region, Zone 6: one case: a person 40 to 49.
All of the cases are travel-related and are all in isolation.
New Brunswick has had 1,958 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started just over a year ago. There have been 1,778 recoveries so far, and 38 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 297,438 tests have been conducted, including 1,616 on Monday.
New treatment for adult COVID outpatients
A new treatment is available for adult COVID-19 outpatients in New Brunswick with mild to moderate symptoms, the Horizon Health Network announced Tuesday.
Budesonide, an inhaled steroid medication, may shorten their recovery period by up to three days and limited evidence shows it may reduce any trips to their primary care provider or the emergency department, according to Horizon's infectious disease/medical microbiology advisory group.
"Think of this as similar to the discovery of acetaminophen, rather than the discovery of penicillin," said Dr. Gordon Dow, co-chair of the group and regional infectious diseases medical director.
Although budesonide is considered an "off-label" treatment because it's not yet approved by Health Canada for COVID use, two recently published "high quality" studies out of the United Kingdom indicate it "does appear to have an impact on improving symptoms," said Dow.
British Columbia and the United Kingdom have also endorsed budesonide as an off-label treatment for COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.
Dow said he expects other provinces will follow suit.
Patients must not require hospitalization or have signs of pneumonia. They should be 40 or older, but can be younger if they have risk factors such as diabetes, heart failure or chronic lung disease.
People who are almost recovered from COVID, or already taking prescribed steroids, or unable to use steroids or inhalers, would not be considered for the treatment, Dow said.
The medication is inhaled twice a day for 14 days through a turbuhaler device, commonly used by patients with asthma and chronic lung disease.
Up until now, patients have been treated with over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or Advil, said Dow.
"This isn't life-saving therapy, but it is going to be a benefit to our patients. It's going to assist patients in getting better, faster, and it may even reduce their need to seek attention by health care," he said.
Six more studies are pending.
"I applaud the advisory group's work on this important COVID-19 treatment advice, and encourage physicians and nurse practitioners across the province to discuss this treatment option with their adult patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19," Dr. Édouard Hendriks, Horizon's vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs, said in a statement.
Special care home outbreak climbs to 49
The COVID-19 outbreak at the Pavillon Beau-Lieu special care home in Grand Falls, in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, has grown to 49 cases, as of Tuesday.
A total of 35 residents and 14 staff have now tested positive, said Russell, the chief medical officer of health.
The outbreak, declared April 21, involves the variant first detected in South Africa.
The Red Cross is providing assistance at the home and testing is ongoing, she said.
Last week, Russell said "quite a large number" of the residents have received at least one dose of vaccine. "We're seeing very mild symptoms," she had said.
Two of the home's residents succumbed to the disease in the past two days, becoming the province's 37th and 38th COVID-related deaths.
'Teeny tiny chance' of cross-contamination at UNB Magee House
Public Health has disclosed more information about its investigation into the source of the COVID-19 outbreak at Magee House, a residence on the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton campus.
Last Tuesday, Russell said Public Health had recommended some "minor changes" to the ventilation system "to make sure that there is no problems in terms of contamination of the airflow, et cetera."
Repeated requests to UNB for more details went unanswered, as did requests to the Department of Health, other than an emailed response Friday saying an assessment of the risk of contamination from recirculated air had been deemed "minimal."
Asked Tuesday during the live COVID briefing what the recommended changes were and whether they had been completed, Russell said she had been working with one of the Public Health inspectors, who had been working with the engineering people at UNB regarding the ventilation system.
"All of the information that they were able to provide showed that there was a teeny tiny chance that there could have been some cross-contamination with one particular component," she said.
"So that was shut off last Tuesday. And they won't be turning it back on until we give the go-ahead."
Thirteen positive cases have now been confirmed in the outbreak at the apartment-style residence, which was declared April 27.
Public Health is now focusing its attention on whether the elevator at Magee House could be the source of transmission.
"All of the information that we had been provided with, really points to fomites in that situation; so surfaces that people came into contact with," Russell said.
Although many experts have recently suggested surface transmission of COVID is extremely rare, Russell noted this outbreak involves the variant first reported in India, which has two mutations.
This makes it "more concerning than all the others," because it is so contagious and causes such severe symptoms, she has previously said.
"With each new variant, we do learn different things. And so we don't make assumptions about what we know or don't know. So we try to be objective about that information," she told reporters Tuesday.
"And certainly everything that we have amassed in terms of information about this particular outbreak points to that. So that's what our leaning is and in terms of our hypothesis and conclusion."
Another round of COVID-19 testing at the residence, which has seven storeys and 101 units, is scheduled for Wednesday.
"Public Health is continuing to monitor two residents to ensure this outbreak is contained," said Russell
Those who have tested negative throughout the outbreak could see their isolation end Saturday at 11:59 p.m. AT.
Residents and staff of UNB's Elizabeth Parr-Johnston residence were retested Monday, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the results were unknown. If they're all negative, their isolation could be lifted as early as Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., Russell said.
George Street Middle School update
The "vast majority" of students and staff at George Street Middle School in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, have returned to in-person classes, after a positive case of COVID-19 was identified at the school last week, Education Minister Dominic Cardy announced Tuesday.
The only exceptions are "a very few close contacts," he said.
The outbreak was previously linked to the outbreak at Magee House.
"The situation has been very stressful for the students, for the staff and for their families. And for the broader Fredericton community, especially because that school community has been self-isolating now for a complete week," said Cardy.
About 900 people were affected.
Zone 4 orange level to be reassessed
The orange COVID-19 alert level that a section of the Edmundston region, Zone 4, remains under will be reassessed next week, said Russell.
The section still under the more restrictive conditions includes Edmundston and the Upper Madawaska region, Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls.
The Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions in Zone 4, remain at the less restrictive yellow level, along with the rest of the province.
No travel is recommended in or out of orange-level areas, but travel between areas at the orange level is permitted. Travel among yellow-level areas is also permitted.
Edmundston hospital has 2 COVID patients
The Edmundston Regional Hospital has two COVID-19 patients being treated in its COVID unit, the Vitalité Health Network announced Tuesday.
Last Friday, Vitalité announced the hospital had no more COVID-19 patients, after weeks of being at capacity in its ability to care for them during the peak of an outbreak in Zone 4.
Although an undisclosed number were still in hospital, they were no longer in the COVID unit because they had recovered from COVID and were no longer contagious, spokesperson Thomas Lizotte had said. They were being treated for "other issues."
The two patients in the unit Tuesday are new patients, said Lizotte.
A gradual increase in outpatient services and the number of surgeries is still expected over the next few days, according to the update from Vitalité.
General patient visits remain prohibited but are allowed for designated support persons.
The emergency department remains open for people who require emergency care and want to see a doctor.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia announced 153 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, and said two people died at home from the disease, one in their 50s and the other in their 70s. The province has 1,060 known active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador has four new COVID-19 cases, at least three of them related to travel. There are still 56 active cases in the province.
Prince Edward Island reported one new case Tuesday and the number of active cases has fallen to seven.
Latest exposure notifications
Public Health has identified new possible exposures to the coronavirus in Fredericton. People who have been in a public exposure location can be tested, even if they're not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or by calling Tele-Care 811.
- Jungle Jim's, 1168 Smythe St., on April 21 between 5:30 and 8 p.m.
- Habitat for Humanity Restore, 800 St. Mary St., on April 22 between 2 and 3 p.m.
Other possible exposures
- April 29 between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Papa John's Pizza (555 Dieppe Blvd., Dieppe)
- April 29 between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (320 Elmwood Dr., Moncton)
Saint John region:
- April 28 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (195 King St., St. Stephen)
- April 26 between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Save Easy (232 Water St., Saint Andrews)
- April 24 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Birch Grove Restaurant (34 Brunswick St., St. George)
- April 20 between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Dr. Michael Murphy's Office (6 Queen St. W., St. Stephen)
- April 23 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., and April 22 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Winners (9 Riocan Ave.)
- April 23 between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – Pizza Hut (1180 Smythe St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Petsmart (1124 Prospect St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Charm Diamond Centres (Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – La Senza (Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – Costco (25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton)
- April 23 and April 22 – Radisson Kingswood Hotel & Suites (41 Kingswood Way, Hanwell)
- April 22 between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – Unplugged (418 Queen St., Fredericton)
- April 22 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Bed Bath & Beyond (15 Trinity Ave., Fredericton)
- April 21 between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – Old Navy (Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton)
- April 21 between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – Chapters (Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton)
- April 21 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Moffitts Convenience (1879 Rte. 3, Harvey Station)
- April 22 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – The Snooty Fox (66 Regent St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and April 22 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – HomeSense, (18 Trinity Dr., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Save Easy Independent Grocer (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic)
- April 23 – Canada Post (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic)
- April 22 and April 23 – Jolly Farmer (56 Crabbe Rd., Northampton)
- April 24 between 10 a.m. and noon – YMCA (570 York St., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Walmart Supercentre (1399 Regent St, Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Princess Auto (21 Trinity Ave., Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Home Depot (Corbett Centre, Fredericton)
- April 23 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Swiss Chalet (961 Prospect Ave., Fredericton)
- April 22 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – Canadian Tire (1110 Smythe Ave., Fredericton)
- April 22 between 10 a.m. and noon. – Digital World (524 Smythe Ave., Fredericton)
- April 22 between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – Tim Horton's (1713 Woodstock Rd., Fredericton)
- April 22 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Costco (25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton)
- From April 19 to April 22 – Canada Post (135 Otis Dr., Nackawic)
- April 21 between noon and 4 p.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (1040 Prospect St., Fredericton)
- May 1 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., April 30 between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., April 27 between noon and 12:30 p.m. – Legresley Esso (15 Notre-Dame Rd., Kedgwick)
- May 1 between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Rossy (344 Canada Rd. Unit K, Saint-Quentin)
- May 1 between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. - Ameublement Milix (344 Canada Rd., Saint-Quentin)
- May 1 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – Boutique du Dollar 12345 (116A Notre-Dame Rd., Kedgwick)
- April 29 between 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. – Familiprix (116A Notre-Dame Rd., Kedgwick)
- May 1 between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., April 29 between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., April 28 between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – Bonichoix (4 Camille Rd., Kedgwick)
- April 28 between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Irving (272 Canada Rd., Saint-Quentin)
- April 25 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – St. Patrick Church (2154, Rte. 130, Grand Falls)
- April 27 between 5:15 a.m. and 5:45 a.m., April 28 between 5:15 a.m. and 5:45 a.m., April 26 between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. – Hill Top Motel & Restaurant (131 Madawaska Rd., Grand Falls)
- April 28 between 5 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. – Irving Big Stop (121 Route 255, Grand Falls)
- April 27 between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and on April 26 between 3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. – Walmart, (494 Madawaska Rd., Grand Falls)
- April 27 between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. – Grand Falls General Hospital
- April 26 between 2:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. – Blue's Printing Shop, (182 Portage St., Grand Falls)
- April 26 between noon and 12:15 p.m. – St-Onge Industrial Supplies (Belanger St., Grand Falls)
- April 26 between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – Canadian Tire (383 Madawaska Rd., Grand Falls)
- April 26 between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and April 24 between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (240 Madawaska Rd., Grand Falls)
- April 26 between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. – Foodland Grand Falls (535 Everard H. Daigle, Grand Falls)
- April 26 between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and April 25 between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Toner Home Hardware (445 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls)
- April 26 between 9:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. – Merritt Press (208 Main St., Grand Falls)
- April 28 - Air Canada Flight 396 – from Calgary to Montreal departed at 1:05 a.m.
- April 29 - Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:24 a.m.
- April 24 - Air Canada Flight 8918 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 9:04 p.m.
- April 22 - Air Canada Flight 396 – from Calgary to Montreal departed at 12:52 a.m.
- April 22 - Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:27 a.m.
- April 20 - Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11:45 a.m.
- April 20 - Air Canada Flight 8906 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:01 p.m.
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.