New Brunswick reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the number of active cases to 130 and pushing the number of cases since the pandemic began to more than 700.

"Our situation is grim," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said during a news conference in Fredericton. "The current situation is the worst we have seen so far during this pandemic."

The province is also dealing with cases at two long-term care homes and a school.

"You can expect that we will see more cases in the coming days," Russell said.

With multiple outbreaks around the province in multiple vulnerable settings, Russell encouraged people to download the COVID-19 app to help contract tracers limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"The fact that we have multiple outbreaks happening around the province in multiple vulnerable settings is unique. We haven't faced this situation before and so when I talk about how serious things are, that's what i'm referring to," Russell said. "The fact that we've experienced in one zone at a time, possibly two, possibly three, but right now, this is spread across the entire province."

After a confirmed case at each facility, rapid-response teams have gone to Canterbury Hall in Riverview and to Fundy Manor II in Hillsborough.

Bessborough School in Moncton was also closed on Thursday after a positive test.

BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES

Here is where the 24 new cases reported Thursday are located.

Five cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region), including:

  • one person 19 and under;
  • three people in their 20s; and
  • a person in their 30s.

Two cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region), including:

  • one person in their 20s; and;
  • one person in their 50s.

Seven cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), including:

  • one person 19 and under;
  • five people in their 30s; and
  • one person in their 50s.

Five cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), including:

  • two people in their 20s;
  • two people in their 40s; and
  • one person in their 70.

Five cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), including:

  • two people in their 30s;
  • two people in their 40s; and
  • one person in their 50s.

All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.

There are 717 confirmed cases in New Brunswick. Of those, 577 have recovered, there are 130 active cases, and there have been nine deaths. One person is in an intensive care unit. As of Thursday, 157,265 tests had been conducted.

They still believe many of the cases will be traced to travel.

"It's important that we do what we can to prevent the U.K. strain of the virus from entering our province," Shephard said. "We are currently finalizing update travel-related information and will have more to share about that (Friday)."

ENTIRE PROVINCE REMAINS AT ORANGE LEVEL

Residents are reminded that the entire province remains at the orange level under the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan. Orange level rules are available online.

"I have no doubt in my mind that if red is required, it will happen," said New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. "We are not there yet. This situation will be assessed every single day. We need to see what this phase will do to help us get things under control."

Russell said going to the red level of restrictions would only be done if absolutely necessary.

"We just know that the ramifications of going to red in terms of what we saw with the first wave were quite negative in terms of unintended consequences and negative outcomes," she said.

MORE THAN 5,000 NEW BRUNSWICKERS IMMUNIZED

As of Thursday, more than 5,000 people had been immunized with their first dose of the vaccine.

If you're wondering when you're next, Shephard says people will be contacted by Medicare.

First, those over 85 will receive the vaccine, followed by those over 80, and so on.

They're aiming to have 75 per cent of the population vaccinated by the summer.

CASE LOCATIONS

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

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 194 confirmed cases (42 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 152 confirmed cases (24 active case)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 159 confirmed cases (40 active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 41 confirmed cases (11 active cases)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 151 confirmed cases (13 active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 14 confirmed cases (0 active case)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 6 confirmed cases (0 active cases)

SELF-MONITORING FOR SYMPTOMS

Public Health is reminding New Brunswickers of the importance of self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, such as:

  • fever
  • a new cough, or worsening chronic cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • a new onset of fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • loss of sense of taste
  • loss of sense of smell
  • in children, purple markings on the fingers and toes

VEHICLE TRAFFIC INFORMATION

New Brunswick's online dashboard also includes information about vehicle traffic attempting to enter the New Brunswick border.

On Wednesday, 1,245 personal and 1,483 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province.

Of the vehicles attempting to cross the border, 27 were refused entry for a refusal rate of one per cent.