COVID-19 round-up for Monday, April 13 – the testing, testing, 123 edition

New Brunswick – At the regular press briefing on Monday, April 11, Chief Medical Officer for New Brunswick, Dr. Jennifer Russell announced testing for COVID-19 in New Brunswick is being broadened to capture more potential cases of the disease.

“Each day we learn more about COVID-19 and we are learning about how the virus is spread, who it is most likely to harm, and how we are alerted to it’s presence in our human body,” said Russell.

“So we are applying these lessons as quickly as we can to give ourselves the best chance of slowing the progress of the virus so it does not overwhelm our healthcare system,” she added.

“In recent weeks, we know that the symptoms for COVID-19 are broader, and so we would like to announce today that we’re changing our testing protocol to capture the broader range of symptoms.”

Russell announced going forward, testing would now be recommended for those individuals exhibiting at least two of the following five symptoms:

fever above 38°C;

a new cough or worsening chronic cough;

sore throat;

runny nose; and

headache.

Anyone exhibiting two or more of these symptoms are advised to immediately self-isolate and contact 811 or their family physician for further direction, and to follow those directions explicitly. Symptoms can range from relatively mild (runny nose and sore throat) to severe such as difficulty breathing.

“This change will likely result in increased demand in testing,” said Russell, “But I’m confident our laboratory has the capacity to address this.

Russell said having two of the five symptoms does not guarantee you have COVID-19, but self-isolating is the only way to ensure you don’t infect others in case you do test positive.

There are two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province today, bringing the total number to 116.

Of the 116 cases, 66 are travel-related, 36 are close contacts of confirmed cases, seven are the result of community transmission and seven remain under investigation.

During the pandemic, 12 people have been hospitalized and seven have since been discharged. Three of the five patients remaining in hospital are in an intensive care unit.

To date, 74 people have recovered, making the total number of active cases less than that of those who have made a full recovery.

The new cases are:

  • An individual aged 40-49 in Zone 3 (Fredericton region)
  • An individual aged 50-59 in Zone 5 (Campbellton region)

New, additional safety measures have also been put in place to protect those living in nursing homes, as seniors are vulnerable to the virus. The protection protocols include:

Steps taken to protect residents living in nursing homes include:

Not allowing visitors.

Implementing advanced screening processes for staff prior to their entering work, including taking everyone’s temperature and requiring that several screening questions be answered.

Instructing on-site physicians and clinical staff to care for residents whenever possible, to avoid any unnecessary transfers to hospitals.

Ongoing training for nursing home staff on the proper use of personal protective equipment, and the directive that all staff with direct patient contact are required to use this equipment.

Premier Blaine Higgs said law enforcement agencies are receiving regular from residents concerned about violations to the province’s state of emergency declaration, and they are responding.

Seventeen tickets have been issued in the last week with 26 in total since the emergency order went into effect. Fines range from $292.50 to $10,200.

“Issuing fines is a last resort,” said Higgs. “Our goal is compliance, not punishment. I hope no one else puts himself or herself in a position where officers have to issue a ticket.”

Up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available online.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca