New Brunswick reports nine new COVID-19 cases Wednesday; potential school exposures

New Brunswick is reporting nine new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two travel-related cases involving New Brunswick residents who are isolating outside of the province.

Of Wednesday's new cases, two are in the Moncton region (Zone 1) and involve:

  • An individual in their 30s.
  • An individual in their 60s.

One of these cases is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other is an out-of-province travel case.

Five cases are being reported in the Bathurst region (Zone 6) and involve:

  • An individual in their 20s.
  • Three individuals in their 50s.
  • An individual in their 60s.

Three of the cases in Zone 6 are travel related, including one which is out-of-province, one is a close contact to a previously reported case and one remains under investigation.

Two cases are in the Miramichi region (Zone 7) and involve two people in their 60s. Both of these cases are close contacts to previously reported infections.

Twenty-two of New Brunswick’s previously reported cases are now considered recovered, as the number of active cases drops to 123.

SCHOOL EXPOSURES

A number of schools in New Brunswick are closed Thursday due to COVID-19.

Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton is closed after two positive cases of COVID-19 were identified. Online learning will take place.

One positive case has been identified at Nashwaaksis Middle School, also in Fredericton, meaning it's closed Thursday for cleaning and contact tracing. It will reopen Friday.

There's also been a possible exposure to COVID-19 at New Maryland Elementary in New Maryland, N.B. Children there can still go to school unless they're contacted by public health.

The notices were posted by the school board late Wednesday night.

UPDATE ON ASTRAZENECA

As Nova Scotia becomes the first province in Atlantic Canada to suspend giving the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose, health officials in New Brunswick have yet to make a decision on their next steps.

In a news release on Wednesday, Nova Scotia public health announced the suspension, citing concern over an increase in the rare blood clotting condition linked to the vaccine. The province also said they now have enough mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to immunize individuals aged 40 and older.

In New Brunswick, Premier Blaine Higgs – who rolled up his sleeve six weeks ago to receive his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine – says he would not hesitate to get his second shot.

Higgs added he expects AstraZeneca will be a major topic of discussion at the COVID cabinet committee on Wednesday.

"At this point, the recommendation for us still is we want everyone to take a vaccine when it's available to them, and we have the same limitations we've had for the past week or so on AstraZeneca," said Higgs.

To date, New Brunswick is the only province in the Maritimes to report a death due to blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine.

N.B. COVID-19 CASE DATA

New Brunswick has had 2,024 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, 1,859 people have recovered and 41 people have died in the province from COVID-19-related causes.

There are currently eleven people hospitalized in total; seven of these patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including three in intensive care units. Four patients are hospitalized outside of New Brunswick.

Public health says 1,483 tests were completed on Tuesday in New Brunswick, and 308,173 total since the start of the pandemic.

The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 416 confirmed cases (24 active cases).
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 282 confirmed cases (20 active cases).
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 288 confirmed cases (22 active cases).
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 747 confirmed cases (26 active cases).
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 185 confirmed cases (2 active cases).
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 72 confirmed cases (24 active cases).
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 34 confirmed cases (5 active cases).

VACCINE UPDATE

New Brunswick's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Wednesday, 318,498 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New Brunswick.

Approximately 41.5 per cent of the province's population eligible for the vaccine has received at least one dose.

NEW BRUNSWICK IN YELLOW ZONE

All of New Brunswick is currently in the yellow level of restrictions under the province's mandatory order.

Although the entire province is back in the yellow alert level, Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, says New Brunswickers must continue to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Don’t take any chances with your health or the health of your family, friends and members of your community. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please get tested," said Russell.