COVID-19 round-up for Wednesday, April 15 – the let me say this for those in the back edition

New Brunswick – Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health for the province announced one new case of COVID-19 in New Brunswick today, bringing the total number of active/recovered cases to 117.

Of the 117 cases, 66 are travel-related, 42 are close contacts of previously confirmed cases, and nine are the result of community transmission. Currently there are no cases under investigation.

Twelve people have been hospitalized and seven have since been discharged. Three of the five patients remaining in hospital remain in an intensive care unit.

To date, 77 people have recovered.

The new case is an individual aged 40-49 in Zone 5 (Campbellton region)

“I sense how excited New Brunswickers are at the prospect of getting back to normal,” said Russell. “Any everyone wants to know when things will go back to the way they were.

“And I promise you normal, or something like normal, is coming – what version of normal that would be, I can’t say.

“And we’re not there yet.”

Russell also advised those who need to visit an ER in the province that it is safe to do so. Russell said ER’s have various measures and protocols in place so if you find you absolutely need to go to the ER, not to fear doing so.

Russell also offered thanks to Extra-Mural program caregivers, who provide at home care to those who might otherwise require hospitalization. She said the program was putting additional measures in place to ensure there was no transmission between stops for the caregivers, and where possible, help is given remotely.

Russell also emphasized the importance of being open with Extra-Mural workers regarding all health symptoms.

“They need to be ready if COVID-19 is potentially present in your home and to have the appropriate protective equipment when they visit,” said Russell.

She said the slow growth rate of cases in the province is encouraging, but her biggest concern remains community transmission.

Russell said we “must not get ahead of ourselves,” and continue to maintain all the protocols we have been, such as hand washing and maintaining social distancing.

She said though cases may be low in the province, it is bordered on three sides by regions with much higher incidence rates of the virus.

“And this is a real danger,” said Russell.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs came out of his corner swinging today, addressing headlines implying he would not be interested in accepting assistance from the federal government for essential workers.

“As you may remember yesterday, I was asked by a journalist about the possibility of temporary pay raises for employees at long-term care facilities and a program announced just early hours before by the Prime Minister,” said Higgs.

“I want to be clear. At no time did I say I wasn’t interested, as the ensuing headline suggested,” he added.

Higgs said the program announced by the federal government is one which would supplement the wages of those essential workers earning less than $2500 per month, and threshold Higgs said few such employees in New Brunswick fall below.

“I am most interested in any federal funding that could be available to these essential workers,” said Higgs, but added he needed more information about how the program would function and who would qualify.

Higgs said river watch officials reported water levels have risen between Fredericton and Gagetown but flooding forecasts indicate those levels should fall over the coming days.  Higgs also encouraged residents to avoid taking a drive to see flooding in the region.

“We know people will be tempted to go get a closer look at the waterways, to see how high the levels are,” said Higgs. “Flood tourism is never a good idea…the best place to be and to stay is at home.”

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

From outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) to include more Canadians impacted by the pandemic, and assistance for essential workers.

“Today, we’re announcing more help for more Canadians. This includes topping up the pay of essential workers,” said Trudeau. “At the same time, we’ll also be expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to reach people who are earning some income as well as for seasonal workers who are facing no jobs, and for those who’ve run out of EI recently.

“I’ll be addressing this with premiers tomorrow night. We all need to do better. We all need to take leadership for the seniors who’ve built this country.

“Our government will work with the provinces and territories to boost wages for a essential workers or making under $2,500 a month like those in our long term care facilities.”

Trudeau said he would be discussing the wage boost and putting it in place as quickly as possible with premiers during their regular call this week.

In regards to the CERB, Trudeau said eligibility criteria has been relaxed, to include more Canadians.

“If you earn a thousand dollars a month or less, you can now receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit because many people do not work as many hours as before, and others must adjust to the reality of contract or gig work,” he said.

Additionally, those who who have recently come to the end of their EI benefits, artists/musicians, and those who will not be able to pick-up their normal seasonal work will also be eligible.

“I can announce that we are expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to include people making up to $1,000 a month, seasonal workers and people whose EI has recently run out,” he said.

Trudeau also said Nunavut and Quebec have both requested assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and have received that help, and also said a second request from Quebec for assistance from the CAF is being answered.

Trudeau also reminded Canadians if they are struggling during this challenging time, there is a portal at canada.ca to find the support you need.

And finally, Trudeau shared an update on testing in the country. The federal government has signed a contract with New Brunswick based LuminUltra, which is ramping up production to supply enough COVID-19 test chemicals to meet weekly demand across the country.

Trudeau said a batch of swabs has also been received to ensure all provinces have the supply required.

He ended saying he knows Canadians are looking for hard answers for when life will return to “normal”.

“But the reality is that we cannot give you a specific date,” he said.

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, there were 27,557 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Seventeen cases are presumptive, and 954 Canadians have died.

For more information on COVID-19 across Canada, links for financial assistance, and links for support, go to canada. ca

editor@stcroixcourier.ca