New Brunswick – In a news briefing today, Tuesday, August 11 – exactly five months since the announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in New Brunswick – the province announced new triggers and revised public health recovery alert levels in preparation for a next wave of COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell said the triggers are linked to three key areas – areas which must be controlled to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The three basic triggers are provincial epidemiology, public healthy capacity, and the ability of the provincial healthcare system to cope with case load. More in-depth details related to these triggers are available online.
Russell said if at any time a trigger is deemed present, there will be a public health risk assessment team who will bring forward recommendations necessary to protect the public.
“We do not believe we have to go back a place where families are kept away from each other for long periods of time,” said Russell, “or where the most vulnerable lose access to their caregivers at times of great need.”
To reduce the impact of another possible wave of COVID-19, Public Health has reviewed all alert levels and associated measures in light of new scientific knowledge and of the effectiveness of previous control measures in Canada and other countries. Details associated with these levels are available online.
Yellow Alert Level: This level applies today as the virus is considered controlled but there remains a risk of community transmission. Physical distancing and standard public health measures will continue to be required to mitigate the risk associated with sporadic cases or clusters.
Revised measures under Yellow include allowing public venues with seating to reduce physical distancing down to one metre with the continuous use of a mask. This measure already exists when using public transit and will apply starting Monday, August 17 in settings such as theatres or recreational facilities such as arenas with the condition that food and drink not be consumed when people are seated at this distance. Distancing of two metres would be required in order for food or drinks to be consumed.
Orange Alert Level: This level would apply when there is a significant risk that COVID-19 is no longer under control. Restrictions on non-essential contact activities, both socially and in some workplaces, would be required to address a high risk of community transmission.
Revised measures under Orange would include allowing public venues with seating to reduce physical distancing down to one metre with the continuous use of a mask. Other measures would include allowing unregulated health professionals to operate. However, close contact personal services such as barbers, hair stylists or spas would remain closed. The two-household bubble would remain, but households would now be able to add formal or informal caregivers as well as members of their immediate family (parents, children, siblings and grandparents).
Red Alert Level: This level would apply when COVID-19 is no longer under control. Strong restrictions to limit unnecessary movement of people and contacts to contain community transmission would be necessary.
Revised measures under Red would allow a much broader range of businesses to continue to operate as long as they have appropriate public health measures in place. Residents would need to return to a single-household bubble but they would now keep the ability to add formal or informal caregivers and members of immediate family (parents, children, siblings and grandparents) that were introduced in the previous levels.
Daycares would remain open under appropriate guidance while kindergarten to Grade 12 schools would be limited to virtual instruction only. Teachers and school employees would continue to work at schools to teach virtually from their classroom. All primary care providers and regulated health professionals would be able to continue to offer their services utilizing virtual means whenever possible.
Green Alert Level: This would represent the end of the pandemic. All directives specific to COVID-19 would be lifted.
“Starting today, I suggest we all make yellow our favourite colour,” said Russell.
“We don’t have to look far to see reminders that COVID-19 is still with us,” said New Brunswick Premier, Blaine Higgs.
“One thing we can all agree on is that we never again want to shut down our province like we did this past spring,”said Higgs.
“While it was tough on everyone, it was the right thing to do,” he added.
Higgs said while there will always be challenges, the goal is for those to have the least impact on New Brunswickers and the economy.
One new case
Public Health reported one new case of COVID-19 today. The new case is an individual between 40 and 49, in Zone 3 – the Fredericton region. The individual is self-isolating, and the case is currently under investigation.
There have been 177 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 168 have recovered. There have been two deaths, and there are seven active cases. As of today, 55,379 tests have been conducted.
For more coronavirus details, go to www.gnb.ca/coronavirus