N.B COVID-19 Roundup: Mask Use Urged Indoors as 14 Cases of Community Spread Reported

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New Brunswick’s deputy chief medical officer of health recommends people wear masks in indoor public spaces, given the “surge” in COVID-19 cases since the region moved to the green zone, including 14 reported cases of community transmission announced Thursday.

Dr. Cristin Muecke said Public Health is concerned by the recent rise in the number of cases, especially those where the source of the infection cannot be established.

Thirteen of these cases are in the Moncton region, Zone 1, and the other is in the Fredericton area, Zone 3.

Muecke additionally reported 8 new cases of COVID-19 – 6 in the Moncton area and 2 in the Fredericton area – putting N.B.’s active case count at 157. A 4th person is now hospitalized, but no one is in ICU.

“Given our current case numbers and the evidence of community spread, I urge all New Brunswickers to continue to wear a mask when they are in indoor public spaces,” she said during a COVID briefing.

“It is true that masks are not currently required by law as they were earlier in the pandemic, but remember we are dealing with a communicable disease that can and will spread quickly among the unprotected.”

Asked later on the significance of Public Health’s decision on indoor mask use, Muecke said, “That is a strong Public Health recommendation at this time.”

Public Health was “comfortable” moving to the green level and lifting all restrictions on July 30 as the trend in vaccine uptake at that time was positive, she stated.

“We all needed to get on with our lives and begin living with COVID-19. Now, of course, we are adjusting. Vaccine uptake is changing and cases are changing.”

Asked whether the region will reinstate a mask mandate or other measures, she said it’s an “evolution situation.”

“We are always looking to create that fine balance between what we need to do to control the pandemic and various potential and unintended consequences of the restrictions that are put in place,” she said.

“All options are on the table and continue to be discussed. And so as various measures need to be put in place, we’ll be not only discussing them but communicating them to the public.”

Vaccination remains the best protection, she said, noting persons who are unvaccinated are more likely to become seriously ill and suffer long-term effects if they become infected with COVID-19.

Those who are not vaccinated or have just received a dose will additionally have more restrictions placed upon them if they are exposed to the coronavirus than a fully vaccinated person would.

A total of 74.2% of N.B residents age 12 or older are now fully vaccinated, up from 74.1% on Wednesday, whereas 84% of the eligible population have had a first shot, up from 83.9%.

The COVID situation would be “significantly worse” without the protection afforded by vaccinations and the “tireless dedication” of contact tracers who are reducing the spread, added Muecke.

“Yes, we have seen an increase in cases over the last month. But we’re not seeing the concurrent increase in serious illness and hospitalizations that would jeopardize our health-care system at this time.”

Around 6 months ago, February 1, before vaccines were readily available, N.B had 175 active cases of COVID – “close to today’s number of 157” – but 6 persons in hospital, including 2 in ICU, she said.

Non one in the region has been admitted to ICU because of COVID-19 since mid-June, Muecke added.

Those who are unable to get vaccinated or decide not to be inoculated should limit their contacts as much as possible, she said.

“I strongly recommend that New Brunswickers pay close attention to the Public Health practices learned during the pandemic — wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, maintain two metres between yourselves and others wherever possible, stay home if you don’t feel well, watch for symptoms of COVID 19 and get tested if symptoms emerge.”

Health Minister Dorothy Shepard said N.B residents should feel encouraged that almost 75% of the eligible population is now double-dosed.

“But with the presence of variants in our province, we must aim above and beyond that goal.”

Of the region’s 157 active cases where lab sequencing has been successfully done, 74 are in the alpha variant first seen in the United Kingdom, and three the more contagious and severe delta variant, first seen in India, which is driving 4th wave and the rise in cases across Canada.

The region has had a recent rise in vaccination bookings, with the average number of weekly appointments rising to nearly 8,000 from around 6,000 at health network clinics and participating pharmacies, said Shephard.

It is an encouraging indicator, she added.

“As we head into the fall, I’m hopeful that even more people will choose to get vaccinated. We know that this is absolutely the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

Shepard asked parents to “do their part” to help ensure the school year goes smoothly. That means all adults in the household being vaccinated, and any kids 12 or older, including those who will turn 12 before the end of the year, she said.

The percentage of youth aged 12 – 19 who are now fully vaccinated is 59.4%, she said, up from 54% two weeks ago, and 73.8% have received at least a dose, up from 70.6%.

“We are on the right track, but we hope to see those numbers continue to rise in the weeks ahead.”

Walk-in clinics are starting Thursday:

  • Sackville, Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saint-Quentin, Auberge Évasion de Rêves, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Bathurst, K.C. Irving Regional Centre, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Shippagan, Public Health Office, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saint John, Exhibition Park, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A pop-up clinic will be held Friday, at Parlee Beach in Shediac between 2 p.m and 6 p.m.

On Saturday, pop-up clinics are being held in the following communities:

  • Moncton, Moncton Coliseum, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Grand Falls, E&P Sénéchal Centre, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Fredericton, Brookside Clinic, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Saint John, Exhibition Park, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Blackville, Blackville Village Hall, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Individuals can also book an appointment online via a Horizon or Vitalité health clinic or via a participating pharmacy.

They are asked to carry their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for persons receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they were given when they took their first shot.

Anyone aged 12 or older is eligible to get vaccinated and can get their second shot 28 days after their first.

Compulsory vaccines for public servants September 7

The compulsory vaccine policy announced last week for government employees in the province will take effect in “Part 1” workplaces on September 7, as per an internal email sent Thursday by the head of public service.

Part 1 constitutes all line units and employs around 11,000 people.

“The overwhelming majority of new infections are among the unvaccinated, and children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccines,” wrote Cheryl Hansen. “Please take responsibility to protect yourself and others, especially our children.

“The policy, developed in consultation with Public Health, contributes to our fight against the virus and unites us in our common mission to ensure the wellbeing of all New Brunswickers.”

The employees have until Sep. 13 to offer proof they’ve received 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, as per the memo.

Departments will not keep copies of vaccination records. They will each just maintain a list of employees who have shown proof of vaccination and managers will get updated lists regularly, it says.

Employees who don’t give proof they’re fully vaccinated by Sep.13 will be required to wear a mask in the workplace throughout, except when they are alone in their personal workspace.

They will additionally have to be tested for COVID-19 regularly till they give proof of full vaccination.

Those who hand over a certificate of a medical exemption to the vaccine won’t be required to wear a mask, but will still need to be tested.

Employees who don’t hand in proof of full vaccination or fail to comply with the masking or testing requirements “will be subject to the disciplinary process, up to and including dismissal,” the memo cautions.

Newly hired employees will have 45 calendar days to offer proof of full vaccination or they will be fired.

Meanwhile, they must adhere to the same masking and testing requirements.

Any suppliers, vendors, or contractors who work regularly alongside public servants during normal business hours, as well as any volunteers, will additionally be advised of the vaccination or masking and testing requirements.

The testing requirements include “point of care” testing 3 times per week. The employer will offer kits to workers so they can do DIY tests at home. A smartphone/tablet application will soon be made available to permit workers to share their results, according to the memo.

Employees will additionally have to register and complete a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test once a month, commencing October 3.

If employees got a positive point of care test or have two or more symptoms, they must schedule a PCR test immediately and not go to work till they get a negative result.

In the event of an outbreak in a workplace, these testing requirements may be temporary modified to include fully vaccinated workers, for instance, based on Public Health guidance, according to the memo.

“Each new development throughout this pandemic journey can raise a range of emotions,” wrote Hansen. “Please continue to be kind and respectful to each other.”

Breakdown of new cases

The 8 new cases confirmed on Thursday break down in this manner:

Moncton region, Zone 1, six cases:

  • A person 19 or under
  • Three people 20 to 29
  • A person 30 to 39
  • A person 60 to 69

Three of these cases are contacts of a former case and three are under investigation.

Fredericton region, Zone 3, two cases:

  • A person 30 to 39
  • A person 40 to 49

Both cases are travel-related.

New Brunswick COVID-19 Cases

N.B has had 2,705 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, with 2,501 recoveries thus far and 46 deaths.

A total of 404,751 tests have been done, including 2,091 on Wednesday.

Zone 1 ‘cluster,’ not ‘outbreak’

The Moncton region, Zone 1, has 89 of the region’s 157 active COVID-19 cases, as of Thursday. Public Health has continued to refer to this as a “cluster”, not an “outbreak”. And that likely will not change, a per a Department of Health spokesperson.

“At this stage of the pandemic outbreaks will typically be declared in specific settings ie workplaces, nursing homes rather than by geographic area,” Gail Harding said in an emailed statement.

Public Health is monitoring and mapping connections between cases both regionally and provincially on a daily basis, Harding said.

“All hands are on deck to respond to this situation.”

Asked how Public Health’s response would be different is the situation were declared an outbreak, she said formal declaration ideally has two purposes – to raise awareness and mobilize resources.

“Both of these are actively occurring already.”

Atlantic COVID roundup

N.S confirmed 1 new case of coronavirus on Thur. and has 50 active cases.

N.L no longer reports on Tuesdays and Thursdays but had 13 active cases as of last record.

P.E.I has no new cases and had 6 active cases at last count.

New possible exposure

Public Health has identified a new place in N.B where persons may have been exposed to the deadly virus.

Moncton region, Zone 1:

  • Aug.24 between 5:47 p.m. and 3:52 a.m. – Moncton City Hospital Emergency Room, 135 Macbeath Ave., Moncton

Public Health recommends that persons who have been at a possible public exposure site and aren’t fully vaccinated get a COVID-19 test, said Department of Health spokesperson Gail Harding. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811.

For those who are fully vaccinated, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms and get a COVID-19 test if the symptoms develop.

Previous exposure notices

Public Health has identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a person who may have been infectious whereas on these flights:

  • Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 7548 – from Toronto to Fredericton
  • Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:38 p.m.
  • Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton
  • Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8506 – from Montreal to Fredericton, departed 7:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 13 – Air Canada Flight 8946 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 10:04 p.m.
  • Aug. 11 – Air Canada Flight 8773 – from Montreal to Saint John, which departed at 9:14 a.m.

Public Health has additionally identified places in N.B where people may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus during the last two weeks.

Moncton region:

  • Aug. 20 between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. – Casino NB, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
  • Aug. 20 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Pump House Restaurant, 51 Orange Lane, Moncton
  • Aug. 14 between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., Aug. 15 between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., Aug. 17 between noon and 1 p.m., Aug.18 between noon and 1 p.m. and Aug. 19 between noon and 1 p.m. – Route 51 Green Line and Route 62 Hildegard Codiac Transpo, 140 Millennium Blvd., Moncton
  • Aug. 18 between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. – Igloo Bar, 300 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
  • Aug.18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Aug, 16 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., Aug. 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 11 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 10 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Crowne Plaza Moncton, 1005 Main St., Moncton
  • Aug. 17 between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. – Tide and Boar Brewing, 1355 Main St., Moncton
  • Aug. 16 between 5 and 7 p.m. – Boathouse Restaurant, 8588 Main St., Alma
  • Aug. 16 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Burger King, 465 Paul St., Dieppe
  • Aug. 16 between 12 p.m and 7 p.m – Magic Mountain Water Park, 2875 Mountain Rd., Moncton
  • Aug. 15 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. – Jean’s Restaurant, 1999 Mountain Rd., Moncton
  • Aug. 14 between 2 and 3 p.m. – Champlain Mall Food Court, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
  • Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. – Wise Guyz Pub, 176 Robinson St., Moncton
  • Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
  • Aug. 11 – Groupe- Support Emotionnel, 96 Norwood Ave., Suite 300A, Moncton
  • Aug. 14 between 2 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.  – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency room, 330 Université Ave., Moncton
  • Aug. 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Action Car and Truck Accessories, 200 Horsman Rd., Moncton
  • Aug. 9, 10, and 13 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Deware’s Service Centre, 402 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
  • Aug. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Oulton College, 55 Lutz St.
  • Aug. 12 between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – St. Louis Bar & Grill, 1405 Mountain Rd.
  • Aug. 12 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – H&M, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
  • Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Our Place, 97 Cameron St., Moncton
  • Aug. 9, 10, 11, and 12 between 6:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Hillsborough Irving, 2799 Main St., Hillsborough
  • Aug. 11 between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre diagnostic imaging waiting room, 330 University Ave.
  • Aug.11 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – New Life Pentecostal Church, 65 Dawson Rd., Weldon
  • Aug. 11 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton
  • Aug. 9, 10, and 11 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Corn Crib, 337 Mountain Dr., Moncton
  • Aug. 11 between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
  • Aug. 10 between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. – Chris Rock Tavern, 48 Albert St.
  • Aug. 9 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
  • Aug. 9 between  noon and 1 p.m. – Pür & Simple Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
  • Aug. 7 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Parish, 11 St. Andrews Rd., Pointe-du-Chêne

The province also shared possible sites of COVID-19 exposure in the Saint John, Fredericton, and Miramichi regions

Saint John region, Zone 2:

  • Aug. 17 and 18 – Fairway Inn and JJ’s Diner, 216 Roachville Rd., Sussex
  • Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– On the Vine Produce, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
  • Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– Greco, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
  • Aug. 16 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Gateway Mall, 138 Main St., Sussex
  • Aug. 15 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.– Costco Wholesale Saint John, 300 Retail Dr., Saint John
  • Aug. 14 between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – MasterMind Toys, 70 Consumers Dr., Saint John
  • Aug. 13 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Pet Valu, 30 Plaza Ave., Saint John

Fredericton region, Zone 3:

  • Aug. 20 between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
  • Aug. 19 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
  • Aug. 19 between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. – Fredericton International Airport, arrivals area, 2570 Route 102 Highway, Lincoln
  • Aug. 18 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – Carleton County Court House, 19 Court St., Upper Woodstock
  • Aug. 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Springhill Infrastructure Asphalt, 940 Springhill Rd., Fredericton
  • Aug. 15 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Grand Falls Cataracts, Baseball Diamond between Chapel Rd and Victoria Rd, Grand Falls
  • Aug. 12 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. – Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton
  • Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Costco Gas Bar and Costco Store, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton
  • Aug. 11 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Aug. 12 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore, 350 Connell St., Woodstock
  • Aug. 11 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – McDonald’s in Walmart, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton
  • Aug. 10 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Coast Tire, 283 Connell St., Woodstock

Bathurst region, Zone 6:

  • Aug. 21 between midnight and 3 a.m. – Party à la Youpi with DJ Saulnier, Army Camp, Leech
  • Aug. 18 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Nigadoo Falls Trail, Nigadoo
  • Aug. 16 between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. – La Trappe, Vieux Couvent, Caraquet
  • Aug. 15 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – La Brôkerie, 39 du Carr Ave., Caraquet

Miramichi region, Zone 7:

  • Aug. 22 between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Gallan’s Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
  • Aug. 19 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Sailor and Jane Eatery, 1 Jane St., Miramichi
  • Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Jean Coutu Pharmacy, 4 Johnson Ave., Miramichi
  • Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Gallan’s Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
  • Aug. 12 between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Walmart, 200 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi

The complete list of possible exposures is updated regularly and is available on the government’s site.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.

Public Health has it that symptoms of the disease have included a fever above 38 degrees Celsius, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

In children, symptoms also include purple markings on the toes and fingers.

Those with one of these symptoms should stay at home, call their doctor or 811 and follow instructions.

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