13 per cent of public sector employees in New Brunswick remain unvaccinated

New Brunswick's health minister says she is "troubled" by the number of public sector employees who are still unvaccinated, as the province reports another five deaths.

In an update Friday afternoon, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the virus is still hitting the province hard and she's hoping more people will get vaccinated.

She said there are 59,500 public sector employees in New Brunswick and 52,000 are fully vaccinated, while 650 are partially vaccinated.

Provincial employees have until Nov. 19 to become fully vaccinated or they will be placed on unpaid leave.

"I am troubled by the 7,000 employees who are unvaccinated," Shephard said.

"We simply cannot have unvaccinated people working in New Brunswick's public service. The potential risk to coworkers, patients, students and members of the public is too high."

Shephard encouraged anyone who has hesitancy about receiving the vaccine to reach out to their medical provider or 811.

She also advised that Halloween trick-or-treating can go ahead next weekend, but is asking that people do it safely.

Those who are in circuit-breaker measures must only travel with their own household and she's encouraging everyone handing out treats to do so in a contactless way.

HOSPITALS AT OR OVER CAPACITY

Dr. France Desrosiers, CEO of the Vitalité Health Network, said 59 of their health-care workers are isolating and 19 of them contracted the virus. 

She said the Campbellton area has been hit particularly hard. That region's hospital had 17 patients with COVID-19 and four of them have died. Four people within the Vitalite system are on ventilators.

Dr. John Dornan, CEO of Horizon Health Network, said its hospitals are treating 30 patients with COVID-19 and emergency rooms are "overflowing. Capacity is well over 90 per cent for several facilities. There are seven COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

"We've had to delay, and in some instances cancel, a total of 113 surgeries," he said.

That includes 71 in the Fredericton and Upper River Valley area and 42 in the Moncton region.

Shephard reiterated the system has “ample” ventilators available.

EXTENDING RED ALERT LEVEL

Dr. Dornan also announced that Horizon Health’s red alert level will likely be extended for another two weeks.

That means visitors are not allowed to enter any hospitals, Patients will continue to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and are urged to seek alternative options for non-urgent health-care needs.

“If things didn’t change, if we had the same level of hospital admissions as we have now, no more, no less, and we continue to not provide all surgeries that we want to do or the chemotherapy that we want to do, we could sustain indefinitely,” he said.

"But that’s not what will happen. Cases can grow. We’re in the midst of possible labour action and it’s not acceptable to not do the surgeries that we want to do. So in red, it’s not an optimal environment, we need to get back to yellow.”

More to come.