The New Brunswick government confirmed two new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 68.
At a press briefing, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the COVID-19 pandemic is changing every day and the approach the province is taking must change with it.
She said the approach is changing as it has been confirmed that the first community transmission case of the virus is now present in the province.
“There are cases that cannot be traced back to travel. This is not a surprise,” said Russell.
She said the new cases are of an individual aged 30-40 in Saint John region and the other aged 60-70 in Fredericton region.
Russell also noted that so far one individual has been hospitalized and two have recovered.
At the press briefing, it was also announced that an employee who works at two Shoppers Drug Mart locations in southwestern New Brunswick has tested positive for COVID-19.
Russell said Public Health is advising people who visited Shoppers Drug Mart at 175 Old Hampton Rd. in Quispamsis on the dates below that they were potentially exposed to COVID-19:
- March 18 – 3:30 p.m. to midnight
- March 19 – 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- March 26 – 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
In addition, individuals who visited Shoppers Drug Mart at 57 Lansdowne Ave. in Saint John on the date below were potentially exposed to COVID-19:
- March 20 – 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Russell advised that anyone who was in those stores during those times should self-monitor and call 811 if they have any symptoms.
“In the advent of community transmission it is now more important than ever to take responsibility for self-isolation because of travel or being related to a case of travel,” said Russell. “And even if you have mild symptoms, you must self-isolate.”
During this time, Russell announced that the decision on who to test will depend on the age group and how severe the symptoms are.
Those who have priority for testing, according to Russell, are symptomatic health-care workers and staff of long-term care facilities and prisons, hospitalized patients with respiratory symptoms and no alternative diagnosis and residents of long-term care facilities and other vulnerable communities
Symptomatic travellers from outside New Brunswick will continue to be tested.
Premier Blaine Higgs, who was also at the press briefing, said that as announced on March 24, workers or self-employed people in New Brunswick who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 situation are now eligible to receive a one-time income benefit of $900.
Applications are available online starting at noon on Monday.
According to the province, the benefit is intended to help to bridge the time between when people lose their employment or close their business to when they receive their federal benefit.
To be eligible for the $900 benefit, a person must:
- Have lost his or her job.
- Have been laid off, or be self-employed and have lost all revenue, on or after March 15 due to the state of emergency in New Brunswick.
- Have earned a minimum of $5,000 (gross) in the last 12 months or in the last calendar year.
- Have lost his or her primary source of income.
- Have applied (or plan to apply) for support from the federal government (either employment insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit).
- Have no other income.
- Be 18 years or older.
Due to the state of emergency announced on March 19 as a result of COVID-19, the government of New Brunswick also announced that applications for the 2020 Low-income Senior’s Benefit will be available on April 1.
To be eligible for the $400 benefit, the province says a person must have been a resident of New Brunswick on Dec. 31, 2019, and have received one of the following federal benefits: Guaranteed Income Supplement (65 years or older), Allowance for Survivor Program (between 60 and 64 years old) or Allowance Program (between 60 and 64 years old).
“Eligible New Brunswickers are strongly encouraged to apply online,” said the province, as application forms will not be available at Service New Brunswick Centres during this time.
The application deadline is Dec. 31, 2020.
Higgs reminded New Brunswickers to stay at home and obey emergency orders.
He said travellers must continue self-isolation for 14 days and that public health officers are screening travellers at the borders.
More than 200 vehicles have been screened so far, with 93 vehicles attempting to travel unnecessarily.
“Stay inside as much as possible,” Higgs said.
More to come.
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.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.