/N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Not likely province will go to red, says Premier Higgs | CBC News

N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Not likely province will go to red, says Premier Higgs | CBC News

As long as New Brunswickers follow the rules, the province should be able to stay out of the red phase, says the premier.

Blaine Higgs said there has been little conversation between Public Health officials about going to the red phase, which would see gyms closed, sports cancelled and gatherings restricted to fewer than five people, outdoors.

“Orange will do the trick,” he said during an all-party COVID cabinet committee interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

The only ways New Brunswick would move into the red phase, said Higgs, is if clusters of COVID-19 show up in random areas and Public Health loses the ability to contact trace. Or if the COVID-19 caseload continues to double.

Higgs expects to see more cases of the virus in coming days following the holidays and New Year’s Eve celebrations. But he’s optimistic New Brunswickers will adhere to rules in the orange phase.

“We had to get the message to people [that] this is real,” he said.

“This thing could get away from us and that is exactly what’s happening in other provinces.”

Dr. Jennifer Russell and Education Minister Dominic Cardy will be speaking at a news briefing at 2:30 p.m. in Fredericton.

Fines could be issued for lying to contact tracers 

Premier Blaine Higgs is reminding Brunswickers to be open and honest with contact tracers about their activity to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“We need to know.”

He said investigators aren’t looking to fine people, they are trying to prevent further outbreaks.

Jennifer Russell announces 24 new cases of COVID-19

CBC News New Brunswick


Lying to contact tracers, however, will be treated as a higher level offence, he said, adding a mandatory order could be put in place and fines could be issued. 

“There’s a shame in acting like you don’t have COVID,” he said.

During an interview Friday, Green Party Leader David Coon wanted to make it clear that if residents receive a call from New Brunswick Public Health, they are in “a safe space.” Contact tracers just want to make sure their information is correct, he said.

Both Coon and People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin have previously been tested for COVID-19.

“Contact tracing is critical, just as testing is,” Austin said. “If we nail those things down, we’ll get out of this sooner than later.”

Premier concerned over unpredictability of vaccine rollout 

Although Premier Blaine Higgs said he is pleased about New Brunswick receiving its share of vaccines, he is concerned about the unpredictability, timing and amount the province will receive.

“Because of that, we aren’t able to plan,” said Higgs.

He said the province could vaccinate “up to” 45,000 people a week “at minimum,” and he’s pushing the federal government to deliver more vaccines to the province.

Higgs said he was on a call Thursday night with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers from across Canada. He said every province is also prepared to receive more vaccines. 

“Everybody wants the same thing.”

Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said now isn’t the time to start criticizing the federal government about who gets the vaccine first.

“The last thing we want to start … is a conflict between provincial and federal governments regarding vaccines.”

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard urges New Brunswickers to follow guidelines as more COVID-19 outbreaks are announced

CBC News New Brunswick


He said the most important thing is a vaccine is on its way and everyone should get it.

“It’s safe, it works,” he said. “Science proves it.”

In New Brunswick, residents of long-term care facilities over the age of 85 are the top priority for the latest batch of 2,400 doses.

The province has said its goal is to vaccinate all long-term care residents and staff before the end of March.

Green Party Leader David Coon said New Brunswickers don’t have a clear understanding as to how the vaccine will be administered.

Although people will receive a letter from the province letting them know they are eligible, Coon said communication needs to improve so everyone is aware of the plan.

24 new cases announced Thursday

There were 24 new cases of COVID-19 announced Thursday, outbreaks at two more long-term care facilities and 836 people in isolation across the province, either because they have respiratory disease or may have been exposed to a positive case, the chief medical officer of health announced Thursday.

The new cases include:

Canterbury Hall, a 60-bed special care home operated by Shannex Inc. in Riverview, and Fundy Royal Manor II, a 28-bed special care home in Hillsborough, each have a confirmed case of COVID-19, said Dr. Jennifer Russell.

She said an investigation and contact tracing are underway.

There are now 130 active cases in the province — the highest number since the pandemic began — and one person is in hospital in intensive care.

The latest cases pushed the total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began in March to 717.

To date, 577 people have recovered and there have been nine COVID-related deaths. The death of a 10th person with COVID-19 was not related to the disease.

A total of 157,265 tests have been conducted, including 1,222 since the report Wednesday.

Exposure notifications

Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights:

Public Health also identified potential public exposure at the following locations:

If you were at any of these locations, and you have no symptoms of COVID-19, self-monitor and follow all Public Health guidelines. If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and do not need to talk to a nurse, complete the self-assessment and get tested. 

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:

A fever above 38 C.

A 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.