The New Brunswick legislature has adjourned only a few days after it began sitting, a decision that comes after two MLAs and the Speaker of the legislature returned home as a result of COVID-19 cases in their community.
Three of the province’s most recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 originate in the area of Campbellton, N.B.
Guy Arseneault, MLA for Campbellton-Dalhousie, and Gilles LePage, MLA for Restigouche West, issued a joint statement on Thursday saying they have decided to return to their home community.
“We have no symptoms but will self-monitor,” the statement said.
The decision comes after New Brunswick linked three new cases to Zone 5 — the Campbellton region — in the province. The cases include an individual between 50 and 59, an individual over 90 and another individual under 19.
On Wednesday, Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief officer of health, said the three cases are all linked to someone who travelled back to the province but failed to self-isolate.
“The case involved a health-care worker who saw patients and also worked at the Campbellton Regional Hospital,” said Russell.
As a result of the new COVID-19 cluster, the province immediately transitioned Zone 5 back to the orange phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan.
In their joint statement, Arseneault and LePage said they are not aware of any direct contact with the individuals who have contracted the virus.
“We have also decided to return to our community. Unfortunately, it means we won’t be attending the legislature for the foreseeable future, but these are unprecedented times and we both believe it’s best we return to our home ridings,” their statement read.
The pair says they will receive tests if they are directed to by health officials.
New Brunswick legislature quickly adjourns
The New Brunswick legislature’s sitting on Thursday was swift, with all MLAs wearing masks.
Speaker Daniel Guitard, who’s the MLA for Restigouche-Chaleur, which is also in the Campbellton area, was not present on Thursday. Global News was later told that he had returned home to his riding.
Instead, Deputy Speaker Chuck Chiasson was in the Speaker’s chair. He quickly moved for a unanimous vote to adjourn the legislature until Sept. 15. It quickly passed.
The legislature then moved a motion to change the adjournment date until June 9 unless called back earlier.
The legislature had only resumed sitting on Tuesday.
All parties agree decision was necessary
All parties in the legislature agreed that the decision to adjourn was necessary to show the public the coronavirus is still present in New Brunswick.
“What we’re trying to avoid here is a super spreader event,” said New Brunswick Green Party Leader Davi Coon.
It’s expected that the adjournment will last until June 9, providing enough time for all MLAs to monitor for symptoms.
“We’ve got to take all of those steps in a very responsible way and follow the directions and directives of public health,” said Roger Melanson, MLA for Dieppe Centre-Lewisville.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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