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3 new coronavirus cases confirmed in New Brunswick connected to health-care professional

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs speaks with the media in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Monday Feb. 17, 2020.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs speaks with the media in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Monday Feb. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

New Brunswick confirmed on Thursday three new active cases of the coronavirus that appear to have a connection to a health-care professional who worked in the Restigouche area.

The person travelled to Quebec earlier this month and did not self-isolate upon their return.

The new cases are of an individual under 19, another between 40 and 49 and the third over 90, who all reside in the Campbellton region.

READ MORE: New Brunswick legislature adjourns as at least 3 MLAs return home after new coronavirus cases

At Thursday’s press briefing, Premier Blaine Higgs said information on this health-care professional has been passed along to the RCMP to determine exactly what took place and whether charges are warranted.

“I understand the person’s employer is also looking into the matter and I am confident the appropriate steps to address this incident will be taken.”

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READ MORE: 1 new case, Campbellton region transitioning back to Orange level

CEO of Vitalité Health Network Gilles Lanteigne said it has been contact-tracing since Wednesday afternoon and has so far tested 50 to 60 employees who had been in direct or indirect contact with the physician.

“We do the staff and the physicians that are under Vitalité and then probably help test the community contacts by doing over 100 tests,” said Lanteigne.

Campbellton Regional Hospital

As a result of the recent case of the health-care professional, the province announced that the emergency department at the Campbellton Regional Hospital is closed until further notice due to the increased risk of COVID-19.

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“Non-urgent or elective health-care services at the hospital have also been put on hold. For now, patients seeking emergency care are asked to visit the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst,” the province said in a statement.

READ MORE: How New Brunswick’s four-step plan to recover from COVID-19 works

Higgs said many Zone 5 health-care workers and their families “are concerned about their potential exposure to the virus.”

“They are doing the right thing by getting tested and self-isolating until they have the results. Health-care workers in Bathurst are being asked to take on additional patients while their colleagues in Campbellton are unable to work,” he said.

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Back to Orange level

On Wednesday, Zone 5 transitioned back to Orange level under the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

“The only reason we went back to Orange in that case (was) because we have a lot of contact tracing to do… so being very aware and needing to close the hospital in the region right now,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.

So far, she said 811 has received many calls, and about 290 people will be tested.

“We have great capacity to do that.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs has highest approval rating among premiers in Canada, according to poll

In the meantime, Russell said the province could see transmission of the virus in other parts of New Brunswick if people have travelled to Zone 5 (Campbellton region) and did not maintain physical distancing.

Russell also noted that testing in the coming days will reveal a lot of information about the extent of transmission that may have taken place.

According to the province, the following rules apply to Zone 5 only:

  • A two-household bubble is permitted. Your household can join up with one other household if both households mutually agree. You must not have close contact with anyone else. You cannot join up with more than one household or bubble.
  • Non-regulated health professionals and businesses such as acupuncturists and naturopaths cannot operate at this time.
  • Personal services businesses such as barbers, hairstylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists and tattoo artists cannot operate at this time.

The province said officials from WorkSafeNB and the Department of Public Safety are in the area to ensure compliance.

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“They will closely monitor and assess the situation in the days ahead,” the province said in a statement.

All other zones in New Brunswick will remain at Yellow level.

READ MORE: Approval of prime minister, premiers soars amid coronavirus response — Ipsos poll

The state of emergency has also been extended for another 14 days.

Both cabinet and the all-party cabinet committee have approved the extension. New Brunswick has been under a state of emergency since March 19.

To date, 23,693 tests have been conducted in New Brunswick. There have been 126 confirmed cases. The number of active cases is six and 120 people have recovered from their illness. None of the active cases are in hospital.

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