The province of New Brunswick confirmed 11 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 81.
At the daily press briefing, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the new cases are in the age range of 20s to 60s.
Of the 81 cases, 43 are travel-related, 22 are close contacts of confirmed cases, three cases are from community transmission and 13 cases remain under investigation.
Fourteen people have since recovered from the virus and four people are in hospital, including two of the latest cases.
Russell also confirmed that a cab driver in Fredericton who came in contact with a traveller got infected with the virus, and said public health has been working with the company to begin contact tracing.
She said that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is more important than ever to protect health-care workers, including those working in nursing homes.
“While we don’t have any cases where transmission happened in a health-care setting, we do have health-care workers infected outside of the workplace,” said Russell.
In light of this, Russell said the province has expanded its testing protocol to test more broadly for people working in health-care.
“We need our health-care workers to stay healthy, mentally and physically.”
Russell also noted that there have been concerns about supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), but assured health-care workers that the province has enough supplies for them.
However, she’s advising the public not to use surgical masks used by health-care workers, which they need to keep themselves safe, adding that the province will start providing more information in the coming days about homemade masks for people who wish to wear them.
Premier Blaine Higgs said at the press briefing that in the coming weeks, the province will start to look for evidence to see if their strategies to protect the public and flatten the curve have been working.
In the meantime, he said the state of emergency will be extended another 14 days, which the province will reassess after and continue to extend as needed.
Higgs also announced that 60 to 70 per cent of doctor appointments have been converted to virtual ones.
Moreover, he said there has also been a decrease in people going to the emergency room.
“This is a needed break for emergency rooms used only for emergencies,” said Higgs.
He also said that 800 hospital beds have been freed up for the crisis as the number of cases continues to increase.
“It is important to show what actions we can take to meet the demands,” Higgs said.
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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