New Brunswick reported 143 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the second highest daily case count of the virus since the start of the pandemic after a record 174 cases were announced on Thursday.
The province also reported another death, a person between the ages of 70-79 in the Miramichi region.
There were also 63 recoveries announced on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 971.
“Our situation has changed in recent weeks and public health does not see a need to recommend further restrictions on New Brunswick at this time,” said New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell during a COVID-19 update on Friday.
Dr. Russell said the province has averaged 109 new cases a day over the past week. She said the cases are concentrated around the three largest cities and that children and teens make up a significant proportion of the new cases.
While the province is seeing a spike of new cases, Dr. Russell says hospitalizations have trended downward in recent days.
As of Friday, there are 36 people in hospital with the virus, 12 of those individuals are in intensive care.
Dr. Russell said the province has four indicators which they monitor under the winter action plan. They include the number of people in hospital and in ICU with the virus, increase in a rolling seven day average, positivity rate and the ability of public health to contract trace.
She said the Fredericton region has experienced the sharpest rise in cases, but it has relatively few hospitalizations related to the virus.
“These numbers are manageable,” added Dr. Russell.
Dr. Russell admitted that while things looked differently at this time last year, a high vaccinated population now allows the province to respond differently.
However, she said, unvaccinated people are still at the greatest risk, and she encourages anyone who has not received their first dose to get vaccinated.
The province said everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public places and following physical distancing protocols.
New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said booster shots were expanded to include people 50 and older this week, and that the province will continue to expand the eligible age groups further in the coming weeks.
Shephard announced on Friday that 88.2 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 82.2 per cent have received their second dose, and 8.4 per cent have received their booster shot.
RAPID TESTING FOR YOUTH
To help stop the spread of the virus in the Frederiction region, Shephard said rapid testing kits will be distributed beginning Monday in kindergarten to grade eight schools.
She said for schools with active cases in Zone 3, students and staff are required to use rapid testing to manage the risk of transmission, and in schools with no active cases for 13 days, Shephard recommended daily testing but it is not mandatory.
Parents and guardians of school aged children outside of the Fredericton region are also encouraged to pick up rapid test kits.
SOME PARENTS CHOOSING TO KEEP CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL
Concern about the number of cases connected to schools across the province has some parents making the decision to keep their children home.
Natasha Johnston’s 10-year-old son contracted the virus about a month ago. She suspects it was from a school setting, and caused almost the entire family to have to isolate.
She takes issue with those who say COVID-19 doesn’t have as much of an impact on children.
“He couldn’t get out of bed. He couldn’t stay awake. He was asleep all the time, he had a fever,” she said.
So, when cases started to rise, she and her husband had a conversation with their three school-aged children.
“We’re very open with our kids, we told them Sunday night about the rise in cases and how we felt about it and asked them how they felt,” she said. “They felt uncomfortable, and they’ve been through enough as far as I’m concerned. If they’re scared and they’re nervous and uncomfortable, then they’re staying at home where they’re safe.”
The family is vaccinated and her 10-year-old received his first dose last week. But she’s not comfortable with the risk. She says her school has had trouble with its online learning options, and wishes that was a more reliable option during this time.
New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon doesn’t know if closing schools until the new year is the best solution, but says everything should be considered.
He is frustrated with the situation.
“Our medical officers of health are our physicians as a population, and they need to be talking to us,” he said.
Dr. Jennifer Russell says spread is happening in schools, during sports and in homes.
POTENTIAL PUBLIC EXPOSURES
A full list of potential COVID-19 exposure notifications in New Brunswick can be found on the province’s website.
Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is urged to request a test online or call Tele-Care at 811 to get an appointment.
Source: CTV News