N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Another death in Zone 4, three new cases reported
Russell, Shephard update vaccine rollout, March break travel warnings at live update
- Russell urges residents to stay in own zone over March Break
- Parkland Saint John nursing home outbreak officially over
- Another death in N.B., death toll now at 24
- Three new cases reported
- Public Health to hold live COVID-19 update at 2:30
- Federal vaccine delivery schedule updated
- N.B. set to receive more than 64,000 doses by April
New Brunswick has lost another resident to COVID-19, Dr. Jennifer Russell reported Tuesday.
The individual was a resident of Edmundston's Manoir Belle Vue, which has seen 86 cases of COVID-19, and was between the ages of 80 and 89, Russell said at a live-streamed update.
The resident died "due to the virus combined with other factors," Russell said. She asked New Brunswickers to join with her in offering the family "our most heart-felt condolences," noting "I grieve with them."
There have now been 24 COVID-related deaths since pandemic began.
The Edmundston region, Zone 4, remains at the red phase of recovery.
"In the coming days, we will be reassessing the situation to determine when it can join the rest of the province" in the less-restrictive orange phase, Russell said.
Russell also declared the outbreak at the Parkland Saint John nursing home "officially over," with no new cases in 28 days, and announced three new cases on Tuesday. The cases break down in this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1:
- One case
Edmundston region, Zone 4:
- Two cases
The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,404.
Since Monday, 12 people have recovered for a total of 1,249 recoveries. There have been 24 deaths, and the number of active cases is 130.
Six patients are hospitalized, and two are in intensive care. A total of 219,140 tests have been conducted, including 793 since Monday's report.
As March break looms, so does threat of variants
With March break just weeks away, Dr. Jennifer Russell is repeating the same request she issued about Family Day: Stay in your zone.
Russell said she was encouraged to see social media posts of New Brunswickers marking Family Day outdoors, or virtually, and in their own health zone.
"I do want to see New Brunswickers take this same approach" to spring break, she said Tuesday.
"We should all limit our travels during March break to within our own health zones … to limit opportunities for the virus to spread and prevent a repeat of the outbreaks that we've experienced over the past month."
She pointed to the variant-driven outbreak now being experienced by "our friends Newfoundland and Labrador," noting "We stand with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in their time of need and trial, as I know they stood with us when cases were surging in our province."
The Newfoundland and Labrador outbreak started at a school sporting event, led to 250 infections in less than a week and put the entire province in lockdown.
That alarming — and rapid — surge showed how the pandemic is changing, Russell said.
"We need to buy time for our vaccination effort so that we can protect our most vulnerable citizens before the new variants take hold."
The good news, she said, is that the strategies we have learned over the last year — wearing a well-fitting mask, physical distancing, thorough hand-washing and staying home if you feel unwell — will be effective against the new variants.
Testing takes a tumble, but 'we are doing okay'
Testing numbers in New Brunswick have slowed recently, but Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, says it is not cause for concern at this point.
Russell was asked at Tuesday's COVID-19 update about the testing numbers, which have gone from about 2,000 a day two weeks ago to about 1,000 a day recently.
Russell said Public Health consults with its epidemiology team to confirm the baseline number they would not want to dip below, "and it's around 3,000 a week."
"We look at our positivity rates – usually there's usually a lag time between when you see cases and when you see hospitalizations, so if all of a sudden we saw hospitalizations, we would know we were missing a larger number of cases."
At this point in time, Russell said, that's not happening.
"All the indicators we have are that we are doing okay," she said. "Could we do better? It's always important that if people have symptoms, no matter how minor, it's easy to call 811 and get the referral . . . It's important that the opportunity and capacity is there."
N.B. hasn't been told how many doses will be diverted
The province is cautiously optimistic it will receive the vaccines needed to vaccinate all health-care workers and long-term care residents by the end of March, based on an updated vaccine delivery schedule published by the federal government on Monday.
"I do believe we're going to receive the vaccines that would accomplish that task, however the date may be a little bit off," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said, noting it will depend on the vaccines arriving in New Brunswick in a "timely fashion."
However, Shephard said, if the updated vaccine delivery schedule numbers "stay on track," the plan to have all priority residents vaccinated by the end of March or first week of April should be doable.
She said more vaccine rollout details would be shared this week.
On Monday, the updated federal government website for vaccine delivery schedules showed New Brunswick is set to receive more than 64,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech between now and April.
That includes a forecast delivery of 8,190 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, and another 9,360 every week afterward until the first week of April.
The province is also expected to receive 2,400 Moderna doses by the end of February.
What is not yet known is how many of the scheduled doses will be diverted to Northern Canada as was announced on Friday.
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Shephard said Tuesday she has not been told exactly how many of the doses will be diverted.
"We haven't been given a full response yet from the federal government," she said. "We are waiting on those numbers to be sure."
CBC News has asked Health Canada to clarify the numbers and is awaiting a response.
The Health Canada website notes that the forecast numbers are "updated as the quantities of available vaccine and the timing of future deliveries" are confirmed.
"Fluctuations from week to week are possible," it says, adding that forecasts are therefore subject to change on short notice.
To date, 21,182 vaccine doses have been administered in New Brunswick, with 7,505 people fully vaccinated with the required two doses, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard.
This week, more than 1,950 health-care workers and more than 1,480 people at long-term care homes are set to receive their second dose.
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:
A fever above 38 C.
A 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.