/N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Atlantic bubble ‘unlikely’ to reopen on April 19, 4 new cases | CBC News

N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Atlantic bubble ‘unlikely’ to reopen on April 19, 4 new cases | CBC News

The Atlantic Bubble’s planned reopening next week is jeopardy, Premier Blaine Higgs said at a news briefing this morning that wasn’t related to COVID-19.

The bubble, which would have opened up inter-travel between Canada’s four Atlantic provinces, was expected to reopen on April. 19.

On Tuesday morning, Higgs told reporters this is now looking unlikely amid the growing number of cases and variant cases, particularly in the Edmundston region, Zone 4.

Pushing the date ahead to early May seems reasonable at this point, he said, but he stressed that will be a discussion the four Atlantic premiers will have Tuesday night. 

The planned April 19 target reopening date was not set in stone, he said.

The goal was always for the four Atlantic premiers to review and discuss the COVID-19 situation, “because it could change — and for us, it’s been the Edmundston issue.”

Higgs noted that he is “keen, like everyone else is,” to see the bubble reopen.

“But there are some risks,” he said, citing travel as one of the most significant of those risks.

“If we mitigate that with vaccines, that makes it more secure for us to open,” Higgs said.

Higgs’s comments came after Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said at a news briefing that this month’s Atlantic Bubble looks “precarious.” 

“The landscape is very different today than it was four weeks ago,” King said.

In Nova Scotia, Premier Iain Rankin agreed, saying that he is leaning toward pushing the opening to May. 

As well, Rankin announced Tuesday that travellers from New Brunswick will once again have to self-isolate for 14 days when they enter Nova Scotia.

The change will take effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 15, Rankin said.

‘Not writing off summer’

As for the when borders could open up to the rest of Canada, Higgs said early July is still the goal.

“I don’t think that’s in jeopardy at this point,” Higgs said Tuesday.

However, he cautioned, that will very much depend on vaccines rolling out as planned, and “on us reaching that 75 per cent [of the population vaccinated] level.”

“We are short on vaccines, there’s no question about it.”

As well, Higgs noted, “we are seeing some major outbreaks in other provinces, and that all weighs into it too, of course.”

“But I’m not writing off summer, because so many people are depending on us to be in a position to travel freely again in our province and in our country … So I’m pushing for that too.” 

Cardy apologizes for last-minute decision to halt in-person classes

New Brunswick’s education minister says he’s pleased with Public Health’s decision to halt the return to full-time classes for high school students, despite the short notice.

Public Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced the delay Saturday afternoon — just two days before daily, in-person classes were to resume. She said the decision was made as a precaution.

“We’ve got to protect the health and safety of students and staff,” Education Minister Dominic Cardy said Tuesday.

He apologized for the last-minute change of plans, which caught teachers, staff and parents by surprise. The decision was also a difficult one for government officials to make, he said. 

“Having a last-minute change like this, even if I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, having it happen at the last minute causes a lot of stress.” 

He said the decision was reversed because the all-party COVID cabinet committee was concerned about COVID-19 case numbers going up in northwestern New Brunswick, and hundreds of thousands of students and staff who could become vulnerable to the variant first reported in the United Kingdom but now in the province. 

“The decision making around these tables is always complicated and you’re always trying to balance hundreds of different pieces of information,” he said. 

Cardy said he couldn’t provide specific details about the decision to postpone classes in cabinet and the all-party COVID cabinet committee, citing confidentiality concerns. 

“I can say I am really happy we are sticking with the blended system at least for a few more weeks,” he said. 

Last week Cardy received a message on Twitter, asking why high schools were opening on Monday, given the COVID-19 situation. He responded by saying it was a strong recommendation by Public Health to resume classes.

“Please contact them to share your concerns. I have,” he said. 

So relieved that high schools across NB will not return to pre-COVID operations on Monday.<br><br>A decision on ending blended learning will be made the week of April 24.<br><br>My thanks as always to the teachers and all staff, and the students and their families, for their patience.


On Tuesday, Cardy told Information Morning Fredericton, said he couldn’t share what he was discussing with Public Health.

He did say, Public Health previously felt the province was in a situation to return to classes full time, and there were concerns about the impact on students’ mental under the current, alternating-days arrangement. Some students are not having a positive educational experience. 

“It’s always a balance from Public Health’s side and anyone else’s side,” he said.

Cardy said the decision for high school students to return to in-person classes full time will be made the last week of April.

NB Twitter, if you’re paying attention to Ontario, you know the dire straits they’re in. Variants are no joke. <a href=”https://twitter.com/DFisman?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DFisman</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/imgrund?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@imgrund</a> I’d love your take on this. Any opinion on whether NB should continue with reduced HS class sizes or return to 100% capacity next Monday? <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/nbed?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#nbed</a> <a href=”https://t.co/UZKMQlE5oZ”>https://t.co/UZKMQlE5oZ</a>


“The best thing to do was to leave high schools alone for at least a few more weeks,” he said.

Cardy wouldn’t say whether he favoured students staying home for the remainder of the school year, but he expected  ashift back to full-time classes would be a challenge. 

“I’m very comfortable that students are at home and very happy that that extra layer of risk hasn’t been added to the province’s efforts to fight back against COVID.”

A ‘new era’ of COVID-19

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said residents need to prepare for a new era of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There has been an uptick of the UK variant confirmed across New Brunswick and the province announced two new cases of the South African variant in the Saint John region on Monday.

Since two cases were properly self-isolating, Russell is hopeful those particular cases won’t spread.

Because of the variants, Russell said contact tracing will be 72 hours in advance of a person showing symptoms of COVID-19 instead of 48 hours.

“We really need people to get tested even if you have really mild symptoms.”

Variants increase in translatability, severe symptoms, reinfections and mortality.

 “You can pretty much lump them all together,” she said. “They’re all very concerning.”

Although vaccines aren’t 100 per cent effective, she said it’s important for more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent more hospitalizations.

More people in their 20s,30s and 40s are getting the variant.

Right now, Russell said the province can absorb more COVID-19 patients, but Public Health is trying to avoid that as much as possible.

 “Just that heightened worry on a constant basis is very draining,” she said. 

10 new cases reported Monday

Ten new cases were reported Monday, affecting two zones in New Brunswick. The presence of the variant first detected in South Africa was also confirmed.

The number of confirmed COVID cases during the pandemic is 1,732. Since Sunday, 13 people had recovered for a total of 1,553 recoveries.

There have been 33 deaths

The number of active cases is 145. Eighteen patients are hospitalized, including 13 in an intensive care unit.

A total of 268,096 tests have been conducted, including 737 since Sunday’s report. 

The number of people who’ve received at least one dose of a vaccine is 136,494 — more than 20 per cent of those eligible. These doses include 625 administered since Sunday, according to the province’s dashboard published Monday afternoon.

More possible exposures

Edmundston area:

Moncton region: 

Fredericton region:

Saint John region:

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. 

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:

Fever above 38 C.

New cough or worsening chronic cough.

New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

Difficulty breathing.

In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms should:

Stay at home.

Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.

Describe symptoms and travel history.