New Brunswick health officials are investigating the first possible case of community transmission of COVID-19 in the province.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced the news at a press conference on Friday.
The revelation came as Russell announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total number of cases in New Brunswick to 45.
One of the individuals previously confirmed as a case of COVID-19 has now recovered, Russell said.
The chief officer of health said 11 of the new cases are related to travel, which means they have either travelled themselves or have a direct link in the transmission chain to someone who has travelled.
Until Friday, all cases in New Brunswick have been travel related.
Russell said privacy concerns prevented her from providing information on the case being investigated, including where they are located or how the case was first detected.
But as a result of the possible community transmission, the province is now expanding testing procedures to include health-care workers who are symptomatic and those who have not travelled but have developed symptoms since March 20.
If individuals — which now includes health care workers — have developed symptoms, Russell said they are directed to self-isolate for 14 days
“Everyone should act like they already have COVID-19 and could potentially transmit it to family, loved ones or other members of the community,” she said.
“Do not put others at risk.”
Russell has also said individuals who call 911 need to inform emergency dispatchers if they suspect they have COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with the disease.
She said it’s important in order to allow first responders the chance to prepare themselves appropriately.
Premier Blaine Higgs said New Brunswick is nowhere near the peak of this pandemic, stressing that it’s important New Brunswickers follow guidelines laid out by the province’s health department.
Higgs said a new $4.5 million program to assist workers and self-employed individuals in New Brunswick who have lost their jobs as a result of the province’s COVID-19 state of emergency will begin soon.
The one-time $900 benefit will be administered through the Red Cross and is meant to bridge the time between now and when individuals receive federal benefits.
Higgs said a website for the benefit will be online by Monday at noon.
Payments will begin being distributed by Thursday.
“I thank the Red Cross for their response and support,” said Higgs. “This is exactly the type of partnership we need during these difficult times.”
The premier said on Thursday that layoffs in the province are believed to have impacted between 25,00 and 30,000 individuals as a result of the new coronavirus.
The true figures will become clearer after Statistics Canada releases its figures for the entire month.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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