Nova Scotians urged to avoid travel to parts of New Brunswick amid COVID-19 surge
N.B. reported 30 new cases Thursday, 24 in Edmundston region
Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel to the Edmundston region of New Brunswick after the province reported a significant increase in COVID-19 cases Thursday.
Last week, Premier Iain Rankin lifted quarantine requirements for New Brunswickers travelling into Nova Scotia, which also means Nova Scotians visiting New Brunswick no longer have to isolate when returning to their home province.
In a news release Thursday, Rankin said the new border policy won't be changing despite the spike in cases.
"This is a dynamic situation and one we have been watching closely," Rankin said.
"Once we heard late this afternoon that New Brunswick was moving the city of Edmundston and surrounding areas into their red zone, we took action."
New Brunswick reported 30 new cases on Thursday — 24 in the Edmundston region.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the variant first detected in the U.K. is responsible for 62 per cent of the cases in the region.
Rankin said he spoke with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, late Thursday afternoon about the increase.
"It is concerning to see the rise in cases in New Brunswick but at this time it is concentrated only in the northwestern area of the province," Strang said in the release.
"It is important that Nova Scotians avoid travel to that area unless absolutely necessary."
The release said Strang is in close contact with his New Brunswick counterparts and is continuing to monitor the situation.
It's unclear what this spike in cases means for the Atlantic bubble which is expected to open on April 19.
Rankin and Strang are expected to provide an update on COVID-19 in Nova Scotia on Friday at 1 p.m.
3 new cases
Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
A case has also been discovered at Millwood High School in Middle Sackville. That case was identified after the province's cutoff for daily reporting and won't appear in the province's tally until Friday, a release from the Department of Health and Wellness said Thursday.
The individual was not in school Thursday and is self-isolating.
The school will close for cleaning, testing and contact tracing until Wednesday. Meanwhile, students will learn from home, and families are expected to receive an update on Tuesday.
Public Health will contact anyone who was a close contact of the infected individual. All close contacts will be tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
"The best way to protect one another is by following all public health measures and making testing part of your regular COVID-19 prevention measures," Rankin said in the news release.
Of the three cases discovered on Wednesday, one is in the eastern health zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The person is self-isolating.
The other two cases were reported in the central zone. One is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada and the other is a close contact of a previously reported case.
"Seeing low case numbers is a good sign, but we continue to have COVID-19 activity in the province," Strang said in the release.
"While the epidemiology shows our approach is working, it also is an indication that we need to continue to follow the public health measures that are in place."
There are 25 known active cases in the province.
Health authority labs completed 2,851 tests on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, 77,431 doses of vaccine had been administered in Nova Scotia, including 22,917 second doses.
Earlier this week, the province announced estimates of when each age group will get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as long as supply remains steady.
Vaccines will be distributed to people in five-year age brackets in descending order, approximately one week apart, starting March 29 with people aged 75 to 79.
New possible exposures
Nova Scotia Health is warning people of four possible COVID-19 exposures in the central and western zones of the province.
Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should immediately book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
- IKEA Dartmouth Crossing at 645 Cutler Ave., Dartmouth, on March 20 between 3:50-5:55 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 3.
- HomeSense Dartmouth Crossing at 110 Gale Terrace, Dartmouth, on March 20 between 5:25-6:40 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 3.
- Sobeys Penhorn at 551 Portland St., Dartmouth, on March 24 between noon-5 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 7.
- Subway Bridgewater at 215 Dominion St., Bridgewater, on March 21 between 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 4.
Individuals who were at these locations during the listed times do not have to self-isolate while they await test results, unless they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported 30 new cases on Thursday for a total of 89 known active cases. Three people are in hospital with the virus. Amid the rise in cases, the province's chief medical officer of health announced Thursday that Edmundston and the upper Madawaska region would move to the red alert level at 6 p.m. for at least four days.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Thursday. The province has one known active case. During a news briefing on Wednesday, the chief medical officer of health said the province will move to Alert Level 2 at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
- P.E.I. reported one new case on Thursday. There are nine known active cases on the Island.