NB COVID-19 round-up: Zone 2 moves back to Yellow phase of recovery, first doses of Pfizer vaccine arrive in province next week

New Brunswick – Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, Greg MacCallum, director of the NB Emergency Measures Organization and the lead for the New Brunswick Immunization Task Force, and Dorothy Shephard, Minister of Health, gathered today, Thursday, Dec. 10 for an update on COVID-19 in New Brunswick.

Russell announced that thanks to residents following Public Health protocols, and the outbreak at the Shannex Parkland facility being under control, Zone 2, the Saint John region which includes Charlotte County, would return to the Yellow phase of recovery at midnight tonight. As part of the Yellow phase, indoor gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted, and masks will no longer be required outdoors.

“I am very pleased with the progress we have seen in Zone 2…since the area transitioned into Orange, the Orange level of recovery two weeks ago,” said Russell.

“And while the outbreak is not completely over, and we have not eradicated all the cases of COVID-19 in the Saint John area, the situation has improved and all of the cases to date have been linked to each other. So the growth in new cases has slowed significantly, and really that has to do with the compliance with health directives by the public.”

For a full breakdown of regulations within the Yellow phase of recovery, look here.

MacCallum said the dry run for vaccine delivery which took place Wednesday, Dec. 10 was successful, and was able to “validate the delivery and handling process” to “safely take receipt of the vaccine” as it is transported to the province.

He said currently, the inaugural 1,950 doses of the vaccine will arrive in the coming days, “certainly this week”, and all doses will arrive at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, which is currently the only place in New Brunswick which has had a freezer which can store the vaccine installed. The Pfizer vaccine requires a storage and transport temperature of around minus 75 degrees.

MacCallum assured residents additional freezers will be installed in other locations in the province for ease of distribution. Russell said there will only be two vaccines which require such low temperatures for storage, and it’s understood the other five vaccines that will be available require normal vaccine storage temperatures of minus 20 degrees.

MacCallum said the province is following the National Advisory Council on Immunization recommendations for which key residents should first receive the vaccine, and the list provided by GNB is as follows:

  • long-term care residents and staff;
  • staff from Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Teams who respond to COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Extra-Mural/Ambulance New Brunswick staff;
  • health-care workers;
  • First Nations nurses; and
  • seniors 85 or older.

MacCallum said with “…small shipments initially, and logistic limitations on these first two products, it will take some time to immunize these groups.”

Russell announced four new cases of COVID-19 in the province today. The cases are:

  • one individual 30-39 in Zone 2 (Saint John region);
  • one individual 20-29 in Zone 4 (Edmundston region);
  • one individual 30-39 in Zone 4 (Edmundston region); and
  • one individual 40-49 in Zone 4 (Edmundston region).

All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.

The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 546 and 464 have recovered. There have been seven deaths, and the number of active cases is 75 with four cases currently in the hospital, including three in intensive care. As of today, 136,559 tests have been conducted.

Also today, the state of emergency mandatory order was renewed, under the authority of the Emergency Measures Act.

In a press release issued after the live briefing, it was announced:

“Public Health has declared an outbreak at the Edmundston Regional Hospital, following several confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the hospital.

Public Health and the Vitalité Health Network are investigating.

The number of cases related to this outbreak include three health-care workers and three COVID-19 admitted patients.

All hospital visitations expect for palliative care, maternity and pediatrics, have been suspended until further notice. Patients with appointments may attend the facility and must follow Public Health measures. Only urgent cases are being handled at the Emergency department.”