Here are some things we were thankful for
New Brunswick’s success against COVID-19 will depend on four things over the next 10 weeks, says the province’s chief medical officer of health. These include limiting the spread of the more transmissible and severe variants, maintaining Public Health measures during the vaccine rollout, rapidly vaccinating as many New Brunswickers as possible, and the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting against severe symptoms, ICU admission and death, said Dr. Jennifer Russell. There are now 49 active cases of variants in the province, including two new cases in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, of the variant first detected in South Africa, she told reporters during the Thursday afternoon COVID update. The Saint John region, Zone 2, also has two cases of that variant, while the remainder of the cases are the variant first reported in the U.K., which are spread across the province, except the Campbellton region, Zone 5. Nearly 25 per cent of New Brunswickers age 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the province remains on target to have at least one dose to everyone who wants one by the end of June, said Russell. But the goal remains “two dose maximum protection,” she stressed, cautioning against a false sense of security. People can still contract the coronavirus after being vaccinated and new data shows these individuals often have very mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all, said Russell. “So these asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus to others who have not been vaccinated, resulting in further spread.” Given this and the growing list of potential public exposures, Public Health is now offering COVID-19 testing to asymptomatic people who have been in an exposure area, she said. “If you feel that you have a spring cold or mild flu, it’s probably COVID-19 or one of the variants. Please get tested, even if you’ve been vaccinated,” Russell said. People can book a test online or call Tele-Care 811. “Don’t take chances with the virus, especially now,” Russell urged. Lockdown for at least another week in Edmundston region There are eight new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, half of them in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, part of which will remain under lockdown for at least another week, the province’s chief medical officer of health announced Thursday. Officials need to see more signs of improvement before ending the lockdown order in Edmundston and the Upper Madawaska area, now in its third week, said Russell. Of the 140 active cases in the province, 104 are in Zone 4, “mostly in the lockdown area,” she said. Meanwhile, the situation has improved in the communities of Grand Falls, Saint-Léonard, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls and they will move from the red level to the less restrictive orange level at midnight, Russell said. The Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions will remain at the yellow level, along with the rest of the province. Russell compared the outbreak in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, on April 7, left, and April 14 to illustrate why the lockdown must continue. Each dot represents a confirmed case and each line represents a connection to another case.(Government of New Brunswick ) In the lockdown area, new cases continue to be confirmed every day and contact tracing remains “a challenge.” To illustrate her point, Russell compared graphics of the region from April 7 and April 14, with each dot representing a confirmed case and each line representing a connection to another case. There are still three large clusters of cases, a few unrelated cases outside of these groupings and 19 cases Public Health officials have been unable to conclusively link to any of the existing clusters, she said. In addition, there are still “a number” of cases of community transmission in the area, as well as “numerous incidents” of public exposure to the coronavirus, Russell said. “We’re working very, very hard at protecting everyone in that community,” she said, thanking residents for their efforts to help slow the spread of the virus. ‘Closer to a return to normal’ Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said New Brunswick’s vaccination rollout remains on schedule and has marked “an important milestone” with at least one dose administered to nearly 25 per cent of people age 16 and older. This “puts us closer to a return to normal,” she said. In the Edmundston region, Zone 4, where extra doses have been allotted because of the outbreak, that figure is more than 35 per cent. “I want to stress that we are not sitting on doses of vaccine in this province,” Shephard said during her speech at the Thursday COVID-19 briefing. “All of the vaccine we have is spoken for. “There is a process that begins when doses of the vaccine arrive in our province and are recorded as received through to when they are recorded as administered. And this process can take from two days up to a week. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the province’s vaccination rollout remains on schedule.(Government of New Brunswick ) “But make no mistake, any vaccine that we have in New Brunswick is accounted for in our rollout plan and will be administered to residents in a timely and efficient manner. In fact, we are accepting every dose made available to us,” she said. When asked about delayed shipments of the Moderna vaccine across Canada, Shephard confirmed the 16,100 doses New Brunswick was scheduled to receive the week of April 5 have not yet arrived. She expects them this week, she said. “We’ve had to, you know, pivot and push out some clinics. But essentially we are at where we thought we would be at the end of Q1 and going into Q2.” Shephard did not provide an update on the 23,800 doses due to arrive the week of April 19, but the military commander leading vaccine logistics in Canada said those shipments are not expected until later this month, possibly as late as the first week of May. 18 in hospital, 12 in ICU Eighteen people are in hospital, 12 of whom are in intensive care. The eight new cases break down in this way: Moncton region, Zone 1: two An individual 20-29. An individual 50-59. One case is travel-related and the other is under investigation. Saint John region, Zone 2: one An individual 20-29. This case is travel-related. The eight new COVD-19 cases announced on Thursday put the total number of active cases in the province at 140.(CBC) Edmundston region, Zone 4: four An individual 30-39. An individual 50-59. An individual 60-69. An individual 80-89. Two of the cases are contacts of a confirmed case and the other two are under investigation. Bathurst region, Zone 6: one An individual 50-59. This case is travel-related. New Brunswick has had 1,760 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. There have been 33 COVID-related deaths and 1,586 recoveries. A total of 271,811 tests have been conducted to date, including 1,296 on Wednesday. Province will pay people to travel at home again The Department of Tourism is offering to pay New Brunswickers to vacation at home again this summer as part of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan. The Explore NB Travel Incentive Program will be reoffered again this year, with a budget of $4.5 million, Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace announced Thursday as part of the department’s budget estimates. The program, launched last summer and recently renewed for fall-winter travel, “has supported many tourism operators throughout the province by allowing them to stay open and generate revenue during the pandemic,” Scott-Wallace said in a statement. Hopewell Rocks, a provincial park, is one of the province’s top attractions and popular with tourists.(Submitted by Brian Atkinson) No details about this summer’s program have been released yet. The department’s website says they will be shared soon. Under the previous programs, residents could apply for a 20 per cent rebate on eligible expenses of up to $1,000 for travel within the province that included an overnight stay. To further support the hotel sector and communities significantly impacted by COVID-19, the department will provide $200,000 to help bring meetings, conventions and sport tourism back to the province and spend $350,000 on the tourism regional fund to assist regions with their tourism plans, she said. Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace said details about the renewed Explore NB travel rebate summer program will be announced soon.(Submitted by Tammy Scott-Wallace) Funding has also been set aside to help the arts and culture sectors rebound post-COVID-19, said Wallace. “We want to ensure that creative New Brunswickers can continue to connect and inspire us when times are tough and as they improve,” she said. The plan includes: $300,000 for the arts and culture recovery and reactivation fund. Continuation of the Inspired by NB campaign to bring awareness of New Brunswick arts and cultural products through spending of $150,000. COVID-19 funding for the New Brunswick Museum and Kings Landing at $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, to help them with their recovery. An $85,000 increase in the New Brunswick Museum’s operating budget. More possible exposures Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights on April 2: Air Canada Flight 396 from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 1:10 a.m. Air Canada Flight 8898 from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:35 a.m. Edmundston region, Zone 4: April 10, between 11 a.m. and noon, Staples, 11 Centre Madawaska Blvd. April 10, between noon and 1 p.m., Walmart, 805 Victoria St. Previous exposure notices Moncton region, Zone 1: April 8 between 4:45 and 5:30 p.m. – COSTCO Wholesale customer service (140 Granite Dr., Moncton) April 6 between 5 and 8 p.m. – YMCA Vaughan Harvey, (30 War Veterans Ave., Moncton) April 4 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Moncton Wesleyan Church (945 St. George Blvd., Moncton) April 3 between 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. – Kelseys Original Roadhouse (141 Trinity Dr., Moncton) April 1 between 12 and 1 p.m., April 3 between 1 and 1:30 p.m., April 6 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., April 8 between 2 and 4 p.m. – CF Champlain (477 Paul St., Dieppe) Saint John region, Zone 2: March 29 and April 1, Guardian Drugs-Herring Cove Pharmacy (924 Rte. 774, Unit 2, Welshpool, Campobello Island) March 31, Service New Brunswick (73 Milltown Blvd., St. Stephen) March 31, Giant Tiger (210 King St., St. Stephen) March 31, Kent Building Supplies (188 King St., St. Stephen) March 31, Carman’s Diner (164 King St., St. Stephen) April 9 between 2:10 and 2:40 p.m., GAP Factory East Point, (15 Fashion Dr., Saint John) April 9 between 5 and 6 p.m. – McAllister Place, 519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John April 8 between 12 and 1 p.m., – McAllister Place, 519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John April 8 between 1:15 and 2 p.m. – Service New Brunswick, 15 King Square North, Saint John April 1 between 6 and 7:30 p.m. – YMCA of Greater Saint John (191 Churchill Blvd., Saint John) Fredericton region, Zone 3: March 31 – Murray’s Irving Big Stop (198 Beardsley Rd., Beardsley) Edmundston region, Zone 4: April 7, 8 and 9, Canada Post (4 Grondin St., Edmundston) April 8 and 9 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Fenêtre Unique (130 Rivière à la Truite Rd., Edmundston) April 8 and 9, National Bank, (111 de l’Église St., Edmundston) April 9 between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (160 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 8 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., April 7 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., and April 6 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. – Tim Hortons (262 Isidore-Boucher Blvd., St-Jacques) April 7 after 6:00 p.m., April 6 after 6:00 p.m. – Epicerie Chez ti-Marc (256 Isidore-Boucher Blvd., St-Jacques) April 7 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., and April 6 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – Dollarama (787 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., and April 6 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – NB Liquor, (575 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. – Jean Coutu (177 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. – Subway (180 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 7 between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 6 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 26 to April 8 – Napa Auto Parts – (260 Canada St., Edmundston) March 20 to April 9, Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 5 at 11 a.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (160 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 1 – Royal Bank (48 Saint-François St., Edmundston) March 31 between 12 and 4:30 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 30 between 12 and 4:30 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 29 between 8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) 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: Fever above 38 C. 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.