New Brunswick officials announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the province Monday, all linked to outbreaks in Moncton and Campbellton.
The new cases include three in the Moncton region (Zone 1) and three in the Campbellton region (Zone 5).
There are now 76 active cases of the coronavirus in the province, which is an all-time high since the start of the pandemic. Five people are in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer, urged New Brunswickers to follow public health guidelines when returning to home and work after the holiday weekend.
“This is not really the Thanksgiving that we were all hoping for or that we wanted,” she said.
In the Moncton region, the new cases are an individual between 50 and 59, an individual between 70 and 79, and an individual between 80 and 89. They are all linked to an outbreak at the Manoir Notre-Dame, a Moncton special care home. The region now has 40 active cases.
The new cases in the Campbellton region include an individual under the age of 19, an individual between 20 and 29, and an individual between 60 and 69. That brings the area up to 32 active cases.
L.E. Reinsborough School in Dalhousie, N.B., reported a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. (Google Maps)
There are also two active cases in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), and two active cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2).
Public Health says all the new cases are self-isolating.
Both the Moncton and Campbellton regions were forced back to the orange recovery phase on Friday, after outbreaks in both parts of the province.
Residents and staff at the Manoir Notre-Dame are being tested every few days.
“We really can’t give the virus any chance,” Russell said. “It will establish itself and spread widely exponentially, and that’s why we have acted with resolve and determination to slow the spread.”
She said the Campbellton cases are all linked and there is currently no community transmission in either region. Contact tracing has been completed and close contacts are self-isolating.
Public Health has not identified a source for the Campbellton outbreak, which remains under investigation. The source of the care home outbreak is “associated with travel.”
Schools to briefly close
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said a small number of individuals at Janeville Elementary School near Bathurst were notified of possible exposure to a positive case. That school is located in health Zone 6 and is not under orange-level restrictions.
Contact tracing related to the potential exposure is still underway, but no impacts to learning are expected this week.
Parents of students at Campbellton Middle School and Lord Beaverbook School in Campbellton were also notified Sunday of a potential exposure to a COVID-19 case.
There are now three active cases at schools in New Brunswick, all in the Campbellton region.
Sugarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton and two elementary schools in Dalhousie — Académie Notre-Dame and L.E. Reinsborough School — have each announced one case of COVID-19.
Cardy said students will not attend in-person classes Tuesday at the impacted schools.
‘The way we can get through this is by making sure the information we share is accurate,’ says New Brunswick Education Minister Dominic Cardy. (Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick)
Sugarloaf Senior High School will also be closed on Wednesday, as part of a prior decision to help students adjust to online learning.
Staff at the closed schools will use Tuesday to roll out response plans while students learn remotely from home.
“Our goal is to keep schools safe and open under as many circumstances as possible,” Cardy said.
In response to multiple schools with a positive case, New Brunswick has rolled out tighter restrictions for schools in the orange regions.
Mask use is now required — both indoors and outdoors — for all students in grades K-12 at schools in the Campbellton and Moncton health regions.
Exceptions will be made for physical education, and while students are eating or working alone quietly at their desk. Those with medical reasons will also be exempt.
Enhanced mask use is now required at schools in orange-level regions. (Shutterstock/Harry Wedzinga)
All school sports, field trips and extracurricular activities are now cancelled. Schools will also be conducting active screening for the virus.
Cardy warned against sharing misinformation about cases of COVID-19, encouraging people to turn to briefings and the province’s dashboard for accurate information.
“Think twice, think three times, before you tweet, reshare, post something that you’re not sure about,” he said. “Do not spread information about people you think might be sick.”
When a case is reported at a school, it does not necessarily mean the transmission of the coronavirus occurred inside the building, according to Public Health. The individual could have been exposed elsewhere in the community.
Restrictions are also in place for after-school programs and child-care facilities, including enhanced mask use.
Orange phase restrictions
New Brunswickers are advised to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of the orange zones.
Russell said she appreciates the decision by New Brunswickers to limit travel in and out of the regions with outbreaks during the holiday weekend.
Masks are now mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public places in the orange zones, as part of tighter restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes sidewalks.
Public Health says those who already entered the Campbellton or Moncton regions for the holiday weekend should observe all orange-level requirements for 14 days after returning home.
Those guidelines include limiting contacts to a two-household bubble, avoiding gatherings, wearing a mask at all indoor and outdoor public places, and being vigilant in self-monitoring and getting tested if they develop symptoms.
‘Thankful for all the sacrifices’
Russell said the next 14 days will be critical as the situation unfolds.
“On this Thanksgiving Day, I am so very thankful for all the sacrifices that everyone is making so that we can all stay safe and healthy,” she said.
Outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer, while some indoor events, including weddings, funerals and religious services, are permitted with 10 or fewer.
In the orange zones, close contact personal services including barbers, spas, and hairstylists have closed under orange-level restrictions.
Manoir Notre Dame is a special care home in Moncton licensed for 120 beds. It is the site of one of the COVID-19 outbreaks in the province. (Shane Magee/CBC)
Gyms, fitness facilities and recreational centres, casinos, amusement centres, bingo halls, arcades, cinemas and large live performance venues are also closed.
Service New Brunswick is also reducing some services in both orange-level regions. Driving tests for cars are discontinued immediately, while commercial driving tests will continue with precautions. Customers with scheduled appointments that require travel outside of zones 1 and 5 will be contacted to reschedule.
There have been 278 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick since the start of the pandemic. There have been two deaths and 200 people have recovered.
The province conducted 945 tests Sunday, bringing the total to 85,792.
Discussions with Atlantic provinces
The rise in cases has also prompted Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to issue travel advisories for both regions of New Brunswick. Both provinces say they are closely monitoring the situation with the Atlantic travel bubble.
Russell said she is has been in regular communication with the chief medical officers of health in the other Atlantic provinces.
“We just trying to share the same messaging based on our risk assessments as they evolve,” she said.
Public Health is asking anyone who visited the Centre Père-Patrice-Leblanc on Murphy Avenue in Moncton between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 to self-monitor for 14 days.
Should any COVID-19 symptoms develop, they are directed to self-isolate and use an online self-assessment tool or call 811 to get tested.
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, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms are asked to:
Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.