Six new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick announced Saturday

New Brunswick – Six new presumptive cases of the COVID-19 virus were announced Saturday, March 21 by provincial Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell, in the daily briefing from Fredericton. These new cases brings the total number of confirmed and presumptive cases in the province to 17.  Provincially,  771 tests have been administered.

The six new cases are:

  • a male, between 40 and 50, in zone 2 (south), who had been on a cruise;
  • a female, between 50 and 60 in zone 3 (central), who is a direct contact of a previously identified presumptive case;
  • a female, between 40 and 50, in zone 2 (south), who had been on a cruise;
  • a male, between 60 and 70, in zone 2 (south), who had been on a cruise;
  • a female, between 50 and 60, in zone 2 (south), who had been on a cruise; and
  • a female, between 20 and 30, in zone 2 (south), who is a close contact to a travel-related presumptive case.

Russell said 5500 individuals in the province have now utilized the new online assessment tool available at www.gnb.ca/biling/coronavirus

This self assessment tool is designed to lessen the strain on the 811 system, and Russell said she’s pleased it is accomplishing the task. “This has eased the pressure on 811,” said Russell, “and this has allowed our healthcare professionals to assist callers more promptly.”

“This is an unprecedented situation,” said Russell. “This isn’t one marathon, but several.”

“As we’ve just heard from Dr. Russell, there are six new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total of confirmed and presumptive cases to 17,” said Premier Blaine Higgs.

“This is not surprising news. Based on what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, we know that the numbers will continue to rise.

“We have put measures in place here in New Brunswick to try to slow down the rising number of cases. With our province under a state of emergency, I’m imploring people to continue to take this situation seriously,” said Higgs.

“Staying home now will reduce the duration of the emergency measures currently in effect,” he added.

On Friday, in his daily press conference from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further restrictions on border crossing, which took effect at midnight on Friday, March 20.

“As I announced Wednesday, Canada and the United States agreed to stop non-essential travel specifically for tourism and recreation,” said Trudeau.  “Trade and commerce will continue.  Further, today (Friday), Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada/US border.”

Trudeau also announced new supports to allow Canadian industry to produce items needed in the fight against COVID-19. 

“This initiative will help companies that are already making things like masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer to massively scale up production,” said Trudeau.  ” It will also provide support to those who want to retool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight.”

Trudeau also announced the creation of new procurement streams aimed at allowing more businesses to “develop solutions and products Canadians need because of COVID-19.”

During his Friday address, Higgs also announced WorkSafeNB would be deferring all premiums for business for three months, and although business property taxes are due May 31, 2020, ate penalties will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to see if the penalty can be waived due to undue financial challenges, such as having to close a business due to COVID-19.

The Department of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour is creating critical sector adjustment committees to help minimize the impact felt by any closures and is working with companies to mitigate impacts felt in affected regions of the province, and the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency will be ensuring it has a comprehensive plan to respond to respond to any issues businesses may have.

Additionally, beginning Monday, March 23, a limited number of Service New Brunswick centres will reopen for essential transactions only – that cannot be done online or by phone. Customers will be screened before entering and if their transaction is not essential, or can be done online or by phone, they will not be permitted to enter. The list of essential services that will be offered at the service centres is listed on the Service New Brunswick website.

On Saturday, both Russell and Higgs discussed temporary changes to the NB drug plan. Effective immediately, and for the duration of the emergency, patients with drug coverage under New Brunswick’s public drug plans will only be responsible for the initial co-payment on a prescription fill or refill. For example, a patient with a 90-day prescription will only have a co-payment for the first 30-day fill. There will be no co-payment required for the second and third 30-day fills on the same 90-day prescription. This applies to all New Brunswickers that are on the public drug plan, including many seniors and low-income individuals.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca