COVID-19 outbreak hits New Brunswick

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On Tuesday, October 6, New Brunswick Public Health declared an outbreak of COVID-19 in Notre Dame special care home in Zone 1 of the province (Moncton) with two cases identified. 

COVID outbreak location identified as Notre Dame special care home. (Global News/Website)

The special care home in question has 112 residents and 56 employees. According to Public Health, they have sent in extra staff and resources to assist the special care home with the outbreak to quickly identify the source. Contact tracing and rapid testing of both residents and staff began the same day. Admissions and visits to the facility were immediately put on hold until further notice. The government is currently looking for LPNs and RNs will to help temporarily fill the staff shortage. 

On Tuesday, October 13, an outbreak was declared at Manoir de la Sagesse special care home in Campbellton. 

Drastic increase in cases during following week

On Wednesday, October 7, 17 new cases were reported in the same zone, all linked to the same special care home.

Three new cases were identified on Thursday, October 8, unrelated to the Moncton outbreak. One is an individual in Zone 2 (Saint John) related to travel outside of the Atlantic bubble; another is in Zone 3 (Fredericton) related to international travel, and the other is in Zone 5 (Campbellton) which source has yet to be identified. All are currently self-isolating.

13 new cases were announced on Friday, October 9, all but one in Campbellton, the other being in Moncton. The source of Friday’s cases have yet to be identified, but they are all self-isolating.

Over the long weekend, a record 20 cases were reported Saturday the 11th, followed by 14 on Sunday, then six on both Monday the 12th and Tuesday the 13th. Saturday’s report was the largest single-day record since March 29. All cases except for one on Saturday in the Fredericton region were related to the outbreaks in Campbellton and Moncton.

Potential exposure sites identified

Public Health also identified during Wednesday’s announcement potential exposure sites at Moncton Costco Optical Centre and at the St-Hubert restaurant. On Thursday, Air Canada Flight 418 from Toronto to Montreal and Flight 8792 from Montreal to Saint John were also identified. On Friday, the McDonald’s restaurant on Morton ave in Moncton was also announced as a potential exposure site. Those who have visited these locations in the past few days or were on those flights are advised to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days. 

On October 11, Centre Père-Patrice-Leblanc in Moncton was also identified as a potential exposure site.

If any symptoms develop, they are to self-isolate immediately and to have an assessment done either online or by calling 811.  

Outbreak affects Campbellton-area schools

The government also closed Sugarloaf High School in Campbellton on Friday due to an identified case at the school. The Indigenous students who go to this school from Listuguj Mi’qmaq First Nation, Quebec are no longer allowed to travel to the province for school will be transitioned to full-time virtual learning as of Tuesday, October 13.

Single cases have been identified at other Campbellton are schools, including Academic Notre-Dame, Dalhousie Regional High and L.E. Reinsborough schools in Dalhousie. A “small group of individuals” were also contacted as they were possible exposed at Janeville Elementary School, Campbellton Middle School, Lord Beaverbrook School, and Campbellton Learning Centre.

Change in recovery phase for Moncton, Campbellton

Higgs states government is working hard to contain the outbreak. (CTV News/Website)

The New Brunswick border was closed off completely to non-essential travel from Quebec on October 8. Prior to this, two bordering communities had been allowed to bubble with the province.

In response to the increased cases in both Moncton and Campbellton, Public Health announced on Friday that these two regions would be returning to the Orange phase of recovery, while the rest of the province can remain in the Yellow phase for the time being.

On Thursday, it was also recommended by Dr. Russell that New Brunswickers download the COVID alert app on their phones so that can be be alerted quickly of any potential exposures. She stated that the app was built with “strong privacy protection”, and is free to download.

It was also requested that anyone travelling through New Brunswick not stop or stay in these Orange zones to help prevent further spread. Those who already left before the announcement was made were told to self-monitor and observe the requirements of the Orange phase regulations for 14 days upon returning to their Yellow phase zones.

On Monday, October 12, GNB announced that driving tests would be suspended in the Orange zones until further notice.

Current case data

This increases the number of confirmed cases in the province as of October 13 to 284, with 82 of those being active, 200 recovered, and two deaths. Five are currently hospitalized with one in the intensive care unit. 86,723 tests have been conducted. 

For the rest of the Atlantic bubble, there are four active cases in Nova Scotia, three on P.E.I, and eight in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Second wave begins

Trudeau announced beginning of second COVID-19 wave on September 25. (Dave Chan/Getty Images)

New Brunswick’s recent outbreak over the past week aside, the Atlantic bubble has been doing well over the last few weeks in comparison to the rest of Canada. During a press conference on September 25, Prime Minister Trudeau that the anticipated second wave of the pandemic is “already underway”. October 9 was the country’s highest increase since the start of the pandemic, with 2,558 new cases confirmed. The increases are occurring mainly in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. Up-to-date information on the pandemic at the national level can be found here.

More information on the confirmed cases in New Brunswick can be found on the GNB website.  

Mandatory mask order for province announced

On Thursday, October 8, Premier Higgs announced that a mandatory mask order would commence at midnight on Friday, October 9. Masks will at this time be required to be worn in all indoor public spaces. The exception to this includes those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, and children under the age of two. Those in the Orange phase zones must wear masks in outdoor public spaces, as well. He also stated that according to the government’s survey of 600 public spaces in the province, only 36 per cent of people were wearing masks. This order is to help prevent the outbreak from spreading even further.