N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Eased restrictions will be 'cyclical,' says medical officer
6th day in the last 10 that a new case has not been reported, says Dr. Jennifer Russell
- No new cases Monday
- Premier offers condolences to Nova Scotia after mass shootings
- Health-care workers to receive priority entrance to Loblaw-owned stores
- Tele-Care no longer taking calls from people looking for family doctor
- Staycations recommended until province is safe from virus
- Ease with online teaching varies among staff
- Dr. Bonnie Henry remembered as 'good student'
New Brunswick remains on track to ease some COVID-19 restrictions early next month, with no new cases reported for the second straight day Monday, said Premier Blaine Higgs.
But chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said it will be a "cyclical event," where restrictions will be lifted and reimposed "on very short notice" as the case count increases and decreases.
"So we are going to be doing a dance, basically," Russell told reporters during the daily update in Fredericton.
The province's total number of cases of COVID-19 stands at 118. To date, 98 people have recovered from the viral infection.
Monday was the sixth day in the past 10 that a new case was not reported, said Russell.
And while only four new cases have been diagnosed in the past week, "make no mistake, this pandemic is not over," she stressed.
There are 20 active cases, including five patients in hospital, two of whom are in intensive care.
Russell noted some of New Brunswick's neighbouring jurisdictions are "still struggling with their numbers and probably will continue to struggle for a while."
"Because we can't change what's happening outside of our borders … we have to stay vigilant and we have to be prepared for releasing measures and then imposing them again."
The fact that we are continuing to receive positive results would reinforce our idea to look at getting back to a new norm — whatever that will be — but it'll be different than what we're used to.- Blaine Higgs, premier
P.E.I.'s total remains at 26, with only one positive case in the past 10 days, 23 considered recovered, and no deaths.
In Maine, the total is 867 and 34 deaths.
Higgs said every day with minimal or no new cases in New Brunswick is a "great day."
"The fact that we are continuing to receive positive results would reinforce our idea to look at getting back to a new norm — whatever that will be — but it'll be different than what we're used to.
"I, like everyone else in the province, [am] feeling a need to start to have a change, and I just want to say how appreciative I am of how the citizens of this province have reacted to follow the rules, to stay very focused on protecting each other, protecting their families and working diligently for us to fight this on one front."
The government will continue to work closely with Public Health, Higgs said, but he expects border restrictions to be the last measure to be lifted.
"I would say at this time, yes indeed. Certainly, if we see the level of concern and the health risks around us, it would not be prudent for us to change the regulations around our borders.
Until a vaccine is available, Russell said anyone who leaves New Brunswick "risks bringing COVID-19 back here."
She pointed to a recent outbreak at an oil sands work site in Kearl Lake, Alta., which has been linked to cases in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, where workers from the site returned home.
She urged any New Brunswickers who have recently been at Kearl Lake, or have had close contact with anyone who recently worked there, to self-isolate for 14 days and to call Tele-Care 811 for further instructions.
"We are not done with COVID-19 and COVID-19 is not done with us," she said.
Of the 118 cases confirmed cases, 66 are travel-related, 42 are close contacts of confirmed cases and 10 are the result of community transmission. There are no cases currently under investigation.
A total of 10,970 tests have been conducted.
Here is a roundup of other developments.
Condolences offered to Nova Scotia after shootings
Both Premier Blaine Higgs and chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell offered their condolences to the people of Nova Scotia during the daily COVID-19 update Monday.
"Our hearts are with the people of Nova Scotia today as we all try to process the tragic events of this past weekend that left so many families grieving and many others injured from a senseless act of violence," Higgs said.
The premier said he reached out to Premier Stephen McNeil to offer sympathy and support after the shooting Saturday and Sunday that left at least 19 people dead.
"We are much more than neighbours and today and in the days to come, we grieve with all Nova Scotians."
In expressing her condolences, Russell said the people of Nova Scotia needed support at this time and would get it.
With author Sheree Fitch's permission, Russell read her poem, Because We Love, We Cry.
"I urge every New Brunswicker to reach out to your friends, family and co-workers in Nova Scotia today. Your kindness will help them bear the weight of the sadness they are now feeling."
Grocery chain gives priority entrance to health-care workers
Health-care workers will be given priority entrance to Loblaw-owned stores, which include Atlantic Superstores, after a request was made to the company.
In a press release, CEO Galen Weston said the decision was made in response to emails the company had received.
Health-care workers will have to show their health-care ID to access the stores.
"They spend long and stressful shifts supporting directly impacted individuals, and often don't know when exactly they will be working from week to week," Weston said in the release. "This uncertainty makes shopping for their own essentials very hard."
Weston continued, saying he hopes the special access helps health-care workers.
"For everyone else, please join us in recognizing these remarkable individuals by being patient while we get them into the store as quickly as we can."
Tele-Care no longer takes calls from people looking for family doctor
People looking for a family doctor are now being told to register online instead of calling Tele-Care at 811.
People used to be able to access the Patient Connect NB program, which matches New Brunswickers with a family doctor, by calling Tele-Care or choosing to register online.
The Department of Health decided to only offer registration online because of a surge in 811 calls as a result of COVID-19.
"As of February 2020, 39,672 people are registered in the Patient Connect program. This number includes those who currently don't have a provider and those looking to change providers," spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said in an email.
"Due to the COVID response, it was decided to close access to the program via the regular 811 process as all resources are required to answer COVID-related calls .In an attempt to ensure people can still register, the online option remains open.
Macfarlane said since the start of the COVID-response, there have been no active matches.
"The 811 line will re-open after the pandemic."
People looking to update their personal information or change their health status should still call Tele-Care, because creating a new record could delay the process of finding a health-care provider.
Patient Connect NB is a partnership between the Department of Health, Service New Brunswick, the two health networks, nurse practitioners and doctors.
Prior to the pandemic, about 40 per cent of people who had registered for a family doctor had been waiting more than a year.
Staycations recommended until province is safe from virus
With provincial borders still closed to non-essential travel many are wondering what the province's tourist season will be like this summer.
Premier Blaine Higgs said Monday that this is the time for New Brunswickwers to discover their own province..
"Once we are able to, and hopefully that will be soon, to allow more movement throughout the province, we want to have people staying in New Brunswick."
Higgs said he encourages people to have staycations in the province and he discourages travel to other provinces.
"I think people should be looking at New Brunswick once again."
Ease with online teaching varies among staff
As students and teachers adjust to a new way of teaching and learning, Anglophone South school district superintendent Zoe Watson said teachers were given a lot of training to prepare them for online learning.
"Some teachers are very comfortable with technology .. others need help and support," said Watson.
Teachers are using a variety of platforms to reach their students. Some are using class websites, others are using a platform called ClassDojo and others are using Microsoft Teams.
"They can post documents, articles, they can set up assignments," said Watson.
Watson said some teachers have even been posting video lessons.
She said it's important to start slowly with online learning.
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"We don't want to overwhelm students or teachers or family,"
Assignments will take longer depending on the student and family, communication with teachers and principals is key.
Patience is also key according to Watson, as teachers are also working at home, often dealing with the same situations as most parents are.
Saint John teacher remembers Dr. Bonnie Henry as 'good student'
Retired high school teacher Sandy Throne says she remembers teaching Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, when she attended Saint John High School from 1981 to 1983.
Henry has become a celebrity of sorts, with paintings, songs and even shoes being made in her honour by fans who admire the public health officer for her calm, compassionate and candid demeanour during the frequent news appearances she makes to keep the B.C. public apprised of the latest developments in the pandemic.
After Henry assumed the position of B.C.'s top doctor in February 2018, Thorne said, "I thought 'I taught her.'"
Thorne went back into her old grade books to see what kind of student Henry was. In the course she taught, European history, the class average was a 78.
"She came first with a mark of 93," said Thorne. "She obviously was a good student."
Henry also left her mark on the student body, becoming captain of the field hockey team and being elected vice-president of the student council.
Thorne said she can't help but feel proud of her former student.
Thorne shared the final line of Henry's graduation writeup, which suggests part of Henry's future was known even then: "Good luck Dr. Bon."
What to do if you have symptoms
People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment on the government website. Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, a new or worsening cough, and breathlessness, as well as sore throat, headache and runny nose. People with two of those symptoms are asked to:
Stay at home.
Immediately call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor
Describe symptoms and travel history.
Follow instructions carefully.
With files from Information Morning Saint John