'It takes lives away from loved ones': N.B. MLA says Edmundston region resilient despite more cases

The MLA for Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston says it was only eight days from when her father was diagnosed, to when he died, of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy: Francine Landry)

The MLA for Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston says it was only eight days from when her father was diagnosed, to when he died, of COVID-19.

"He left us very quickly. Very, very quickly," said Francine Landry.

She says despite testing positive, her 89-year old father had a positive outlook until the end. He was a resident at a long-term care facility in Edmundston.

Landry says it's been difficult to grieve during the more restrictive red phase.

"The reality is, the virus can hit any family, anyone. Rich or poor. It doesn't matter. It takes lives away from loved ones," she said.

The Emundston region has been under the red phase, or in lockdown, three times in just over four months. Half of the province's COVID-19 related deaths are from that area.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, says there's many reasons why the zone is vulnerable.

"There's so many things that can happen," she said. "It is close to borders. We do have a lot of people coming into that area – rotational workers, travelers, truckers, cross-border workers – there are a lot of risks up there."

The zone has 115 of New Brunswick's 141 active COVID-19 cases.

And while an outbreak at Edmundston's Manoir Belle Vue is officially over – another outbreak has been declared at a nearby long-term care home in Saint -Jacques, after a case was discovered.

But Landry says there is still a little bit of hope.

Over 3,100 extra vaccine doses have arrived in the region – and a clinic in Saint-Jacques on Thursday was full of people receiving the vaccine.

Two vaccine clinics for high school teachers were cancelled because of the new age limits on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

They were rescheduled for Thursday and Saturday in Bathurst, N.B., and Shediac, N.B.

The 10 high schools affected will no longer reopen fulltime on April 12, which was the province's original return to school plan.

Instead, they will return on April 19.

Since September, high school students have gone to school every second day, and learning from home otherwise.

"The public health protective layers of physical distancing, mask-wearing, and enhanced cleaning/hygiene will remain in place," a spokesperson for the department of education said.