Vitalité Health Network was contacted by the RCMP on Friday as they investigate a doctor connected to the new cluster of coronavirus cases in northern New Brunswick, Global News has learned.
The new development comes a day after Premier Blaine Higgs said information on the health-care professional was passed along to the Mounties as they work to determine exactly what took place and whether charges are warranted.
Gilles Lanteigne, CEO of Vitalité Health Network, also confirmed that the doctor has been suspended indefinitely by the hospital where he worked.
Dr. Ed Schollenberg, the registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick, confirmed that the doctor at the centre of the outbreak worked at Campbellton Regional Hospital, which is now closed to the public.
“I can’t talk about it,” Schollenberg said in an email to Global News when asked whether the college was exploring its own disciplinary action.
On Friday, New Brunswick confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton area (Zone 5), which are both related to the travel case.
At the press briefing, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the province now has eight active cases located in Zone 5, with two of the previously confirmed cases in intensive care and not yet stabilizing.
“I need to tell you that based on the contact tracing that people living outside of the region are in the circle of transmission,” said Russell. “That’s why every New Brunswicker must be vigilant.”
The two new cases include an individual in their 30s who works in a long-term care facility and another individual in their 60s.
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Russell said public health is rapidly testing that facility to help combat the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, she said the investigation into the travel-related case is ongoing.
“We have to be patient while the investigation is still unfolding on these details.”
The province said additional assessment centres have been set up for the weekend to test residents of Zone 5 at the Campbellton Memorial Regional Civic Centre and at the Inch Arran Arena in Dalhousie. Interested individuals must call Tele-Care 811 or their family physician to arrange an appointment at the closest facility.
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While most of the province sits in the third, “yellow” phase, of New Brunswick’s recovery plan, the Campbellton region has transitioned back to the “orange” phase in an effort to limit the new outbreak.
During this time, the province said activities previously scheduled to be permitted on May 29 will be delayed by one week to June 5. This will allow time to determine the extent of the current outbreak. The activities being delayed are:
- Outdoor public gatherings of 50 people or fewer.
- Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, of 50 people or fewer.
- Low-contact team sports.
Openings being delayed include:
- swimming pools, saunas and waterparks
- gyms and yoga and dance studios
- rinks and indoor recreational facilities
- pool halls and bowling alleys
Russell said she has received several calls and emails from New Brunswick residents frustrated by the decision, but she defended the move.
“We don’t have all the information that we need right now to know extent of the spread of the virus at this time,” she said, speaking of the Zone 5 cluster. “And until we have that information over the course of the next week, we really did need to protect others at this time.”
Russel is also encouraging residents of Zone 5 and the rest of New Brunswick to watch for symptoms and to call 811 to get tested.
The symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea and a loss of sense of taste and smell.
In children, symptoms such as purple markings on the fingers or toes might appear.