New Brunswick officials announced 23 cases of COVID-19 in the province Saturday, setting a new single-day high since the start of the pandemic.
The new cases include 16 in the Saint John region (Zone 2), and six in the Moncton region (Zone 1) and one in the Fredericton region (Zone 3).
There are now 71 active cases in the province. One person is in the hospital related to the virus.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer, said New Brunswickers are facing a situation which can quickly turn “serious” without immediate action.
“We need a renewed commitment to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we need it now,” she said.
The uptick in new cases is the most since Oct. 20, when officials reported 20 new cases as the Campbellton region grappled with an outbreak.
Both the Moncton region (Zone 1) and the Saint John region (Zone 2) were rolled back to tighter restrictions under the orange recovery phase this week.
Entire province could go orange
Premier Blaine Higgs indicated the entire province could move to orange-level restrictions if the rise in cases continues.
He said the current increase is a “reality check” that the virus exists in the province.
“We are now in our own bubble in New Brunswick,” he said. “And that bubble is about to burst.”
Nine new cases were announced on Friday, including seven in the Saint John region.
Public Health also declared an outbreak at Shannex Tucker Hall, a nursing home in Saint John.
Higgs said he is saddened by the possibility of failing in efforts to contain the virus “at the last minute.”
“The threat we have in front of us right now is the entire province could go to orange phase,” he said.
Health Minister Dorothy Shepherd urged New Brunswickers to report COVID-19 rule-breakers through the province’s tip line.
She said if efforts to contain the virus don’t improve, regions could see tighter restrictions.
“If we don’t change our behaviours and our actions today, as of this minute, that is where we are headed,” Shepherd said.
Return to red level possible
There are now 32 active cases in the Moncton region and 30 in the Saint John region. There are also seven active cases in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), and two active cases in the Bathurst region (Zone 6).
There are “at least” 600 people self-isolating in New Brunswick, including about 300 in the Saint John region, Russell said Friday.
She said a COVID-19 “superspreader” event contributed to doubling the number of confirmed cases in that region within a day.
Russell would not specify where the event occurred or what impact the
Saint John, Moncton under tighter restrictions
New Brunswickers are advised to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of the orange zones.
Police officers, peace officers and Public Health inspectors will be in Zones 1 and 2 to monitor orange rules and issue fines as needed.
Residents of the Saint John and Moncton regions are now required to maintain single-household bubbles. This can be extended to caregivers or an immediate family member who lives alone and needs support.
Masks are also mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public places in the orange zones.
Close-contact personal services and entertainment venues can remain open under operational plans.
Potential public exposure has been announced at Saint John restaurants, bars, and a dinner theatre.
Vito’s Restaurant announced on Facebook that an employee at its Rothesay Avenue location has tested positive for COVID-19.
The location is closed until further notice and is undergoing cleaning.
Gatherings in orange phase
The province also rolled out new rules for gatherings:
Residents must stay within a single-household bubble.
No informal indoor gatherings beyond this single household bubble are permitted.
Outdoor gatherings with physical distancing of 25 people or fewer are permitted.
Formal gatherings of up to 25 people allowed for weddings, funerals and faith-based services.
Faith venues may hold services with up to 50 people, but masks are mandatory.
Restaurant dining rooms can remain open, but a single-household bubble must be maintained.
A full list of the rules under the orange phase is on the government’s website.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
A fever above 38 C.
A new cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should:
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