For the second day in a row, New Brunswick is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases.

With 31 new cases announced on Wednesday, the number tops Tuesday's total of 27 new cases. This brings New Brunswick's number of active cases to 110.

There are 97 health-care workers off the job for COVID-related reasons and there is a renewed outbreak at Parkland Saint John, a long-term care facility.

"As grim as it looks today, things will likely get worse before it gets better," Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday afternoon during a news conference in Fredericton.

"I don’t like to say that, but that is a reality. We must get serious about slowing the spread of COVID-19 virus. Everyone must act now to follow public health guidelines and advice. The alternative is even stricter public health measures to counter the spread of this disease."

At this point, health-care officials are not ruling anything out, including taking a step back into the more restrictive red phase.

"We’re not eliminating any kind of options of what we can do to control of this," said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

Shephard says talk of a curfew hasn't reached the COVID-cabinet committee, but she's not ruling it out.

Russell said it's time for New Brunswickers to start thinking of the consequences of their actions, and look at how such behaviour has led to massive outbreaks in the neighbouring province of Quebec and state of Maine.

"The COVID-19 virus continues to spread across New Brunswick,” Russell said in a news release. “Everyone must get serious about slowing the spread of the virus and everyone must act now to follow Public Health guidance and advice."

The alternative, she said, is hospital beds filled with COVID-19 patients and not enough workers to care for them.

Horizon Health just followed up on the breakdown of healthcare workers off work because of the virus:

Fredericton zone has 31 workers off
Moncton zone: 22
Saint John zone: 20

Total for Horizon: 73@CTVAtlantic

— Laura Brown (@LauraBrownCTV) January 6, 2021

Russell said contact tracing has revealed that people who were contagious went to holiday gatherings, infected others, and then these people infected another group of people.

Russell said she expects a rise in cases over the next week to ten days as a result of New Year's Eve gatherings.

"The threat of COVID-19 is not only to the elderly and infirm," Russell told reporters in Fredericton. "We have seen in recent days a large number of young people who have contracted the virus and have spread it to others by going to gatherings while infectious."

Shephard said she's concerned the number of cases will continue to rise in the days ahead.

"It is frightening to see the numbers increase like this," she told reporters. "When we look to the jurisdictions that surround our province we see how quickly cases can escalate. That can easily happen in New Brunswick if we are not careful."

There have been 693 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. Of those, 573 have recovered, one is in hospital in intensive care, and there have been nine deaths.

As of Wednesday, public health has conducted 156,043 tests.

BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES

Of the 31 new cases reported Wednesday, there are six in Zone 1 (Moncton region), including:

  • a person 19 and under;
  • three people in their 20s;
  • a person in their 60s; and
  • a person in their 80s.

The 18 cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) include:

  • a person in their 30s;
  • a person in their 40;
  • three people in their 50s;
  • three people in their 60s;
  • seven people in their 70s;
  • two people in their 80s; and
  • a person aged 90 or over.

The three cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) include:

  • a person  19 and under;
  • a person in their 40s; and
  • a person in their 50s.

The three cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) include three people in their 40s and the new case in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) is a person in their 60s

All cases are self-isolating and under investigation.

CASE LOCATIONS

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

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 189 confirmed cases (38 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 150 confirmed cases (22 active case)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 152 confirmed cases (34 active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 36 confirmed cases (6 active cases)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 146 confirmed cases (9 active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 14 confirmed cases (1 active case)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 6 confirmed cases (0 active cases)

EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION

Public Health identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on Jan. 1 while on the following flight:

  • Air Canada Flight 8910 on Jan. 1
  • From Toronto to Moncton departed at 8:30 a.m.

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 Tuesday, 1,706 personal and 1,351 commercial vehicles attempted to cross the border into the province.

Of the vehicles attempting to cross the border, 15 were refused entry for a refusal rate of 0.5 per cent.

With files from The Canadian Press.