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COVID-19: Doctor says people need to continue following fact-based information

Click to play video 'Moncton doctor says it’s important to put COVID-19 into context' Moncton doctor says it’s important to put COVID-19 into context
WATCH: Spokesperson for Moncton airport says they’re not sure yet if the woman who has the first case of COVID-19 travelled through the airport. But as Callum Smith reports one doctor says it’s important to put illness into context. – Mar 13, 2020

A spokesperson for the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport says they’re not sure yet if the first case of COVID-19 in Atlantic Canada was at the airport.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday a woman between 50 and 60 years old is in self-isolation at her southeast New Brunswick home after returning from France.

But at a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Dr. Russell said contact tracing has been done and people who may have come into contact with the woman are in self-isolation.

Signage from public health officials is posted at the airport, showing people how to protect themselves and indicating symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Julie Pondant, the corporate communications specialist for the airport, says they’re awaiting more information.

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“Obviously [the case] raises questions here, internally as well, as much as it warrants it,” she says.

Few people were headed out Thursday afternoon.

Pondant says they have international flights from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Florida. But people returning from other destinations would go through larger airports first.

“They’re being screened at the first point of arrival in Canada,” she says. “For [Moncton], those would be Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. And from there, they come through Moncton in terms of a regular domestic flight.”

People at the Salvus Clinic in Moncton are taking extra precautions, using the hand sanitizer and masks that are provided at the front desk as needed.

The health and housing clinic that serves vulnerable populations has warning signs posted for people not feeling well, who have travelled within the last two weeks, or for people who have been in contact with ill travellers.

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Dr. Susan Crouse, the clinic’s executive director, says COVID-19 needs to be put in perspective.

“We just need to remind people that this is a respiratory illness and that most people will not become severely ill,” she says. “We are more worried about the more vulnerable people in our population; the elderly and those with chronic health problems. So we just have to focus on what the real illness is.”

Meanwhile, the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick says local leaders tend to be an essential point of contact for people with concerns.

“Both because they’re responsible for local emergency management planning but also because local leaders are the ones that people often contact first when something is happening,” says Margot Cragg, the union’s executive director.