COVID-19 round-up for Friday, May 29 – the highway to the danger zone edition

New Brunswick – There are two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province today.  Both cases are part of the cluster in Zone 5, the Campbellton/Dalhousie region, and Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, confirmed one of the new cases is a healthcare worker who works in a long-term care facility.  

This brings the total number of cases in the province to 128, and eight are active.  Two cases are currently in an intensive care unit, and Russell said she has been told those individuals are in stable condition.

The two new cases are:

  • an individual between 30 and 39 (healthcare worker) in Zone 5 (Campbellton region);
  • an individual between 60 and 69 in Zone 5

Vitalite has confirmed the original case, a healthcare worker who did not self-isolate for 14 days on returning to New Brunswick from Quebec, has been suspended. While Russell would not confirm when asked directly today if the individual was a doctor or nurse, reports elsewhere state the original travel related case is a male doctor in his 50s. 

Russell said although residents outside Zone 5 may feel this outbreak doesn’t involve them, “this impacts everyone”, and said she makes the comment in the “strongest possible terms”.

“I need to tell you that we know, based on our contact tracing of the current cases in Zone 5, that people living outside that region are in the circle of transmission,” said Russell.

“And this cluster could easily spread to other regions of New Brunswick if we fail to work together. This is why every New Brunswicker must be vigilant.”

Russell said if you are contacted regarding contact with this cluster, to immediately follow the directions of public health.

“I want to assure workers and residents and their families that we’re taking this very, very seriously,” said NB Premier Blaine Higgs.

Higgs said there is a rapid response team onsite, which allows for test results in 45 minutes, and every resident and employee will be tested.

In regards to the individual who has been suspended, Higgs said the case has been referred to the RCMP, and any professional ramifications will be handled by the individual’s employer.

Both Higgs and Russell spoke to those businesses such as gyms which had been slated to open today, Friday, May 29 and have been put back to Friday, June 5 at the earliest, who are frustrated with the change of date.

Russell said as this is an emerging situation, and as the extent of the spread is unknown, precautions must be put in place.  Higgs said the province cannot move forward “until we have a clearer picture of transmission”.

“There is a good chance this virus could have spread outside of the boundaries of Zone 5,” he said. “We need to know that conclusively.”

Zone 5 has been moved back to the Orange Phase, while all other zones in New Brunswick remain at the current Yellow level. During this time, Public Health measures and guidelines must still be followed.

The activities being delayed are:

  • Outdoor public gatherings of 50 people or fewer.
  • Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, of 50 people or fewer.
  • Low-contact team sports.

Openings being delayed include:

  • swimming pools, saunas and waterparks
  • gyms, yoga and dance studios
  • rinks and indoor recreational facilities
  • pool halls and bowling alleys

If you or a member of your family are showing two of the following symptoms, contact Tele-Care 811 or your primary health-care provider for further direction:

  • fever above 38°C or signs of fever (such as chills);
  • a new cough or worsening chronic cough;
  • sore throat;
  • runny nose;
  • headache;
  • a new onset of fatigue;
  • a new onset of muscle pain;
  • diarrhea;
  • loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and
  • in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes. In this instance, testing will be done even if none of the other symptoms are present.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19, including the latest data on confirmed cases and laboratory testing in New Brunswick is available online.

A self-assessment will help you determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.

From outside the now familiar Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today said long term care facilities were a main topic of conversation during the weekly phone call with the premiers.  He said the provinces and feds must work together to “ensure that all our elders receive the care they deserve”.

He said the first ministers were briefed on the work being done by the COVID-19 immunity task force, which will coordinate blood test surveys across the county.

The call also included discussions surrounding support for workers across Canada, and efforts to ensure every working Canadian has 10 paid sick days annually.

Trudeau also announced $650 million in support for Indigenous communities with healthcare, income support and new shelters for Indigenous women and children.

He said $285 million will be allocated to public health for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities, including nurses and specialized supplies.

Funds will be allocated to boost on-reserve income assistance programs, with a portion to help provide skills training, and benefit navigation.

And in addition to the $10 million announced in April for Indigenous women and children’s shelters, an additional $85 million for new shelters for Indigenous women and children to be built in communities across the country, including the north.

“These new shelters will offer a path forward when people need it the most,” he said.

Finally, Trudeau said cruise ships will not be allowed in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020 at the earliest.

For information on available benefit programs, application portals, and up-to-date information on COVID-19 in the country, go to www.canada.ca

editor@stcroixcourier.ca