After a 16-day streak of no new cases of COVID-19, New Brunswick has announced new cases on back-to-back days.
The number of confirmed cases now stands at 120, with two active cases.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said that the new cases are no surprise and that more will follow until a vaccine is developed.
“Until a vaccine or other treatment becomes widely available we will see further cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and when that happens our public health teams will work tirelessly to track down the contacts and make sure they’re isolating,” she said.
“We will continue to have movement in and out of the province, even with the restrictions on non-essential travel and that carries the risk of new cases as we are seeing today.”
The newest case is a man in his 20s who was tested in the Saint John health zone who was a close contact of a confirmed case in Ontario.
Russell says they self-isolated upon their arrival in the province and did not come into contact with anyone.
Even with the new cases, the government will still move forward with the next phase of its recovery plan this week according to Premier Blaine Higgs.
During Wednesday’s public health update Higgs said an announcement on allowing businesses to open will come by the end of the week.
“I’ve been encouraging businesses for weeks to prepare for the new normal and reopening. We are just days away from announcing that, in fact, it will be this week,” Higgs said.
“I am asking you again to plan and prepare, determine how you can operate within the public health guidelines, [like] physical distancing, cleanliness and handwashing.”
According to documents circulated when the recovery plan was announced, phase two could include the resumption of elective surgeries, and allow daycares, offices, retail businesses and restaurants to open.
In order to begin reintroducing restrictions, the province would have to see three unconnected community cases over a period of six days.
As the province moves forward with the next phase of its recovery plan attention is now turning to New Brunswick’s borders.
Higgs said an average of 38 vehicles are turned away from the land border each day and only essential traffic is being allowed through.
But the province is still intent on strengthening its borders as they look to allow for more intraprovincial movement.
Higgs acknowledges that the current process has worked well.
“It is encouraging when you hear how the system has worked and how people have responded and followed the rules of public health,” he said. “Now we’re going to a new phase of opening more activities … and the idea is that there’s more activity going to be happening in the province.”
“So how do we just ensure that we have a process in place that allows us to give more freedom in our province and more capability to allow our businesses to do what they do.”
The premier said those with primary residences outside of the province, who spend their summers in New Brunswick, will not be allowed into the province.
Higgs said it’s possible that in later phases of the recovery plan some people could be allowed in, but at this point, anyone arriving at the border would be turned away.
“That’s not part of our phase two at this point, but can it be going forward? It’s something to be discussed,” he said
“But at this point in time, it’s too early to open the borders especially in the situation with what they’re currently dealing with in Quebec or Ontario.”
In regards to a passenger on WestJet 3456, which arrived in Moncton from Toronto on April 27, Russell said new information shows the patient was not contagious at the time of travel.
The patient was tested, treated and quarantined in Alberta and the public health notification was sent out in error.
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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