More than a dozen schools close in New Brunswick as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Another sharp jump in COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick forced more than a dozen schools to close Monday, following reports on the weekend indicating the latest surge in infections was showing no signs of letting up.

Public Health in New Brunswick reported 75 new cases on Monday and two more deaths, bringing the overall total to 68. Those numbers followed 93 new cases and two virus-related deaths reported on Sunday. Health officials said New Brunswick is now dealing with 767 active cases, which is more than triple the number in neighbouring Nova Scotia.

On Monday, New Brunswick's Opposition Liberals issued a statement saying the province should offer rapid testing at the province's schools.

"Schools are being closed across the province, children are self-isolating or waiting at home to hear from contact tracers," said Liberal education critic Benoit Bourque.

"Frankly, the situation is getting out of hand. … Regularly testing children, especially those under 12 who cannot be vaccinated, will have the most impact on the spread of the virus."

Bourque said the province obtained 1.15 million rapid tests and has used just over half of them.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick is also reporting a rising number of hospitalizations, with 49 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 21 in intensive care. On Saturday, New Brunswick reported its highest single-day increase for COVID-19 infections, with 140 new cases recorded and an additional four deaths attributed to the virus.

In Nova Scotia, health authorities reported 86 new cases over the weekend, with 77 per cent of them reported in the central zone, which includes Halifax. New cases were also reported in the province's other three health zones.

The 67 new cases in the central zone were linked to community spread, primarily among unvaccinated people aged 20 to 40 who are taking part in social activities, the province said.

As well, seven Nova Scotia schools were notified of COVID-19 exposures on the weekend. No schools have been closed, but about a dozen have imposed limits on non-essential visitors, extracurricular activities and movement within buildings.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, 13 of them in the central region.

Almost 90 per cent of the province's active cases were in the central region, where an investigation has been underway since Sept. 20. Clusters have been detected in Baie Verte, Twillingate, Bishop's Falls and Botwood.

Among the province's 160 active cases, 14 involved people recovering in hospital, including seven in critical care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.