New Brunswick

Northwest N.B. prepares to enter full lockdown, province confirms 17 new cases

The Edmundston and Grand Falls region will see businesses shut down and schools close as it enters a strict lockdown at midnight on Saturday.

Non-essential businesses, schools will close for at least 2 weeks

Edmundston, along with the entire Zone 4 health region, is set to enter a full lockdown for at least two weeks. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada file photo)

Latest

  • Province reports 17 new cases on Saturday
  • Most Zone 4 businesses will be forced to close
  • Quebec border region wants checkpoint
  • Protester arrested near premier's home
  • Edmundston and Grand Falls region to begin lockdown at midnight
  • What to do if you have a symptom

The Edmundston and Grand Falls region will see businesses shut down and schools close as it enters a strict lockdown at midnight on Saturday. 

The Zone 4 health area reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, just hours from from the beginning of tighter restrictions. Residents are urged to stay home as much as possible as case numbers continue to climb.

New Brunswick confirmed 17 new cases Saturday, the day after officials announced the lockdown at a news conference.

Eric Marquis, Edmundston's deputy mayor, said he expected tighter restrictions and supports the lockdown.

"We knew that at one point we would have to push on the reset button and stop the spread," he said.

Cases in Zone 4 have doubled four times since Jan. 6, when there were seven active cases. There are currently 135 active cases in the region, including some reported in schools, retirement homes and workplaces.

Manoir Belle Vue, a special care home in Edmundston, has reported 20 cases in total as part of an outbreak.

The lockdown will have similar restrictions to those rolled out provincewide at the start of the pandemic, and is expected to last at least two weeks. Most non-essential businesses will be forced to close, and schools will switch to virtual learning.

Grand Falls Mayor Marcel Deschênes said businesses in his community have been struggling during the pandemic. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

Grand Falls Mayor Marcel Deschênes said he is only aware of three cases in the Grand Falls area since the start of the pandemic.

"Going from red to lockdown — it's a little hard to swallow," he said. 

Deschênes said Grand Falls businesses have been struggling during the pandemic. 

"I talked to a businesswoman yesterday," he said. "She told me she had one customer come in. She has bills to pay at the end of the month. She's got employees that she has to lay off."

17 new cases

The new cases reported on Saturday include:

In the Moncton region (Zone 1), five new cases:

  • an individual 19 and under.
  • an individual 20-29.
  • an individual 30-39.
  • two people 50-59.

In the Saint John region (Zone 2), one new case:

  • an individual 19 and under.

In the Edmundston region (Zone 4), 10 new cases:

  • two people 20-29.
  •  an individual 40-49.
  • two people 50-59.
  • five people 60-69.

In the Campbellton region (Zone 5), one new case:

  • an individual 20-29.
(CBC)

New Brunswick has confirmed 1,104 total cases of COVID-19 and 762 recoveries.

There are 328 active cases. Five people are in the hospital, including three in intensive care.

The province has recorded 13 deaths related to the illness. Public Health conducted 4,999 tests since Friday's update, for a total of 186,796.

Most businesses will close

Service New Brunswick offices in Zone 4 will be closed.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, NB Liquor stores and Cannabis NB stores will remain open. Veterinary clinics can also stay open with animals dropped off at the curb. Libraries will open to allow internet access.

Regulated health-care professionals, such as dentists, can continue to operate. 

The province said early childhood education facilities can also continue to operate, with the help of a $3 hourly wage boost for employees who work during the lockdown.

Most red-phase rules, such as maintaining a single-household bubble, continue to apply. 

Officers check for compliance with single-household bubble rules on Edmundston's Rue Saint-François on Friday. The region will move to a full lockdown Saturday night at midnight. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada)

Edmundston police are conducting roadside checks to enforce compliance with single-household bubble rules throughout the weekend.

Renters are also protected against evictions during the lockdown. Landlords can not begin proceedings until 10 days after the restrictions end.

Marquis said Public Health informed him of transmission of COVID-19 at some businesses in the community.

At least 20 cases are linked to an outbreak at the Nadeau Poultry slaughterhouse in Saint-François-de-Madawaska. 

Most workers at the plant come from the Edmundston and Clair region in New Brunswick, with about 25 workers coming from Quebec and two from Maine.

The plant is minutes from the New Brunswick-Maine border.

The Edmundston Regional Hospital is preparing space for the event people with COVID-19 need to be hospitalized. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada)

Dr. John Tobin, head of the family medicine department in Zone 4 for the Vitalité Health Network, said the atmosphere at the Edmundston Regional Hospital is tense. Staff are preparing space for the event people with COVID-19 need to be hospitalized.

"We see comments a little bit everywhere of people who don't follow the restrictions," he said. "It worries us a lot."

While the lockdown will last a minimum of two weeks, the officials will assess the situation every seven days. Marquis is urging residents to stay home and is hopeful the tighter measures will be effective.

"If everybody is part of the solution, I think that we could be back, say orange or yellow, in the next couple of weeks," he said. 

Quebec border region wants checkpoint

The mayors of the Témiscouata Regional Municipality, which borders Zone 4 to the north, are calling for further protections in response to the surge in cases in the Edmundston region.

The leaders sent a letter to the Quebec provincial government on Thursday asking for the installation of a checkpoint at the border with New Brunswick to stop the spread of outbreaks.

There are currently checkpoints to enter New Brunswick from Quebec, but not to exit. (CBC/Alexandre Silberman)

There are currently border inspection posts at the Saint-Jacques, Baker Lake, Matapédia and Campbellton points of entry into New Brunswick. But those travelling into Quebec from New Brunswick are currently not subject to screening.

The letter is part of a larger effort to close off the entire Bas-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec with checkpoints.

People can continue to travel across the provincial border for essential reasons, such as commuting daily for work, for medical care, to attend school, or for child custody agreements. 

Protester arrested near premier's home

One person was arrested and several tickets handed out at a protest near the home of Premier Blaine Higgs in Quispamsis on Saturday, according to Corporal Kim Bennett of Kennebecasis Regional Police.

"There have been protests there for a number of Saturdays," Bennett said.

She said police were there to enforce the mandatory order early Saturday afternoon.

Bennett said some tickets were handed out for infractions under the emergency measures act, but she would not give further details about the nature of the tickets or how many were handed out. 

In a video posted online, police can be heard issuing a ticket to a person for failing to wear a mask.

The person who was arrested has since been released, Bennett said. 

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.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

  • Difficulty breathing.

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.

  • Follow instructions.

About the Author

Alexandre Silberman is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. He can be reached at alexandre.silberman@cbc.ca

With files from Shift NB, Radio-Canada

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