New Brunswick reinstates restrictions amid the worst of the fourth wave so far

As of 11:59 on Friday, New Brunswick has returned to a state of emergency due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The province dropped all COVID-19 related restrictions on July 30, but during a technical briefing on Friday, Horizon Health’s infectious disease specialist Dr. Gordon Dow acknowledged that decision was a mistake.

"Did we under call this one? I would say yes and I would say most of New Brunswickers would agree with that," said Dow.

"But I would also say that we got it right 85 per cent of the time and now what we’re going to do is pivot and bring this under control."

New Brunswick reported 61 new cases on Saturday and one death. There are 32 people currently in hospital with the virus and 12 are in an intensive care unit.

In an effort to control the spread, the province is enforcing additional restrictions which include asking people to limit their contacts to their household plus 20 consistent contacts. That number also applies to indoor private gatherings.

Physical distancing is being enforced again in businesses, during services, or at events where proof of vaccination isn’t required.

Jean-Claude D’amours, the MLA for the Edmundston Madawaska Centre, says he has heard from many health care workers who are feeling the strain of the fourth wave.

"They are all saying that they are stressed to a level that they have rarely seen, entering this crisis."

With the increased need for COVID-19 testing, the province now requires even more health care workers to help keep up with the demand and prevent delays.

"In some areas, it takes longer than others to get tested but this is not acceptable. We need to be quick and make sure that the test is done quickly and that the result is provided quickly," said D’amours.

Since proof of vaccination is not currently required for employees of businesses, business owners are busy making sure their staff receives rapid tests regularly.

John Wishart, the CEO of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce, said that they’ve been contacted now more than ever for rapid tests.

"They have to ask their employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested. In the last week, we’ve had 200 businesses reach out to us which is a huge spike."

With 78.9 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, the province has pointed to public health measures being the best defense against the new strain of the Delta variant, which has made up for 85 percent of the cases this month.

"It’s the fastest spreading variant so far," said Dow.

He expects that with these new measures in place, the province will be able to flatten the curve within two weeks.