N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Zones 1, 2 and 3 go red as 31 new cases and another death reported
'Full lockdown' possible if latest steps don't work, Premier Blaine Higgs says
- Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton go red at midnight
- 31 new cases, 1,953 New Brunswickers self-isolating
- 13th COVID-19 patient has died
- Delays, reductions in Pfizer vaccine shipments
- Warnings about deadly, underestimated threats
- 3 more schools record cases
- Possible exposures
The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions are being rolled back to the more restrictive red phase as of midnight Tuesday night, and there has been another death in the province.
The individual, an 89-year-old resident of Parkland Saint John, is the 13th COVID-19 patient to die since the pandemic began last winter.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, made the announcement at a live-streamed briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying the measures are needed to stave off the "avalanche of cases we are seeing across our borders."
Premier Blaine Higgs also addressed the briefing, warning that the province will go to "full lockdown," including closing schools, if cases continue to rise.
- What we know about the worse-than-red phase Higgs warns about
- Liberals support decision to keep schools open in red phase
"We have never been in a situation like this since pandemic began," Higgs said. "I cannot stress enough that this is a critical moment. ... Stay home as much as you possibly can and avoid interacting with people outside your household bubble."
Under the red phase, gyms, hairdressers and entertainment centres must close and everyone must stick to a single-household bubble. Dining must be takeout, drive-thru or delivery only, and elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures are postponed.
New red phase rules for schools have been introduced, including:
- Students and staff must stay home if they have even one symptom of COVID-19.
- School staff will be screened for COVID-19 when they report to work each day.
- If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school in the red level, the school will be closed for at least three days to allow for contact tracing. The school would also become a testing site for school staff.
31 new cases reported, affecting six of seven zones
Dr. Jennifer Russell,the chief medical officer of health, announced 31 new cases in the province on Tuesday. The cases break down as follows:
Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases:
- two people 40 to 49
- an individual 50 to 59
- an individual 60 to 69
Saint John region, Zone 2, three cases:
- two people 19 or under
- an individual 40 to 49
Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case:
- an individual 19 or under
Edmundston region, Zone 4, 21 cases:
- an individual 19 or under
- an individual 20 to 29
- two people 30 to 39
- three people 40 to 49
- seven people 50 to 59
- five people 60 to 69
- an individual 70 to 79
- an individual 80 to 89
Campbellton region, Zone 5, one case:
- an individual 50 to 59
Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case:
- an individual 20 to 29
There are now 316 active cases in the province, and 1,953 New Brunswickers are self-isolating.
The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick so far in the pandemic is 1,004 and 674 have recovered. There have been 13 deaths, and one patient is hospitalized.
As of Tuesday, 176,034 tests have been conducted, including 1,839 since Monday's report.
Warnings about deadly, underestimated threats
The daily case count numbers are a visible reminder of the threat of COVID-19 that is "all around us," Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday.
But unseen threats also lurk, with potentially fatal consequences, he said.
Higgs cautioned against "underestimating your ability to infect others" and said that even with the mildest symptoms — or no symptoms at all — you could be a carrier and a transmitter of the disease.
He said "we've had cases" of people who came home to isolate with their parents, unknowingly infected them with COVID-19 and one of their parents died.
"We've had cases like this, it's very concerning," he said, "the fact that even though you may be asymptomatic ... you are a high risk to someone else."
The growing threat of the much more contagious U.K. and other variants of the virus should also be on everyone's radar, Higgs said.
"We do not yet know if new strains of COVID-19 are in New Brunswick," he said, "but they pose an additional, real threat."
Frustrating wait for answers on vaccines
Premier Blaine Higgs has questions about the "reliability" of vaccine supply in the wake of Pfizer's delivery wobble, but he said he's not getting answers.
In the wake of news from Ottawa on Tuesday that Canada will not get any shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and will see reduced shipments for several weeks after that, Higgs said plans to have the province's health-care workers and care home residents vaccinated by the end of March are still on track.
But he wants further assurances — and he's not getting them, he said.
"We need consistency, we need to know what the [dosage delivery] numbers are," he said at Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing. "We'll work with the numbers we have, but we need to have assurance that the numbers are correct. This (Pfizer delivery) issue this week gives us some concern in that regard."
The status of approvals for some of the five other vaccines Canada has agreed to purchase is also a troubling question mark, Higgs said.
"Only two vaccines have been approved by Health Canada and they were approved relatively quickly," he said. "What is the status of at least two others that are in front of Health Canada for approval? What is the timeline? We can't seem to get any answers on that … not only here but across Canada."
Health Canada is currently reviewing AstroZeneca's vaccine, which has been approved in the U.K., and a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm, Janssen.
3 more schools record cases of COVID-19
École Régionale Saint-Basile in Saint-Basile and Élémentaire Sacré-Coeur in Grand Falls both announced positive cases and said they would close because of them.
Both schools are in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, which is in the red phase.
Meanwhile in the Anglophone South School District, a Saint John school has announced a positive case.
In an email to CBC News district spokesperson Jessica Hanlon confirmed a case at Princess Elizabeth School.
"Any staff or student who might have been identified by Public Health as a close contact would have been contacted and informed to self-isolate," said Hanlon.
Nine schools in the province have had COVID-19 cases within the past week.
In Anglophone South School District, cases have been recorded at Quispamsis Middle School, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield, Millidgeville North School in Saint John, and Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis, where there are two cases.
Two schools in the Anglophone East School District, Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, have also announced positive cases.
New public exposure warnings issued
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights:
- Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m.
Public Health has also issued the following potential COVID-19 exposure warnings:
- Goodlife Fitness Centre, 175 Ivan Rand Dr. E., on Jan. 13 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
- Moncton North After Hours Medical Clinic, 1633 Mountain Rd., on Jan. 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
- Jean Coutu Kim Levesque-Cote Pharmacy, 276 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Parts for Trucks, 21 Powers Rd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 11, 12 and 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 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:
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.
With files from Jordan Gill and Hadeel Ibrahim