There are three new cases of the novel coronavirus in a long-term care home near Campbellton, N.B., according to the province’s chief medical officer of health.
During an unanticipated press briefing Sunday, Dr. Jennifer Russell said an employee at The Manoir de la Vallée in the community of Atholville tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
All three cases reported Sunday are between the ages of 80 and 89.
“An outbreak in a seniors’ home is everyone’s greatest fear,” Russell said. “Please be assured that the overriding priority is the health and safety of the residents and those who care for them.”
There are now currently 12 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, all of which are in the Campbellton region. Three individuals are in hospital, with one in an intensive care unit.
The community is dealing with an increase in cases after a family doctor who contracted the virus outside New Brunswick didn’t self-isolate upon returning.
But Russell noted the potential for the virus to spread beyond Campbellton.
“We know the incubation period is 14 days,” she said. “So all of the people we have tested so far who are close contacts of cases, those people are self-isolating at home for 14 days.
“Anybody who tested negative who has concerns, that doesn’t meant that they can’t become positive in the next 14 days.”
Russell said public health will be monitoring the situation in Campbellton and across the province “very carefully” over that two-week period.
“Every corner of the province needs to be vigilant.”
More than 2,000 tests over the weekend
Russell said its microbiology lab in Moncton processed 1,305 tests on Saturday, which is the province’s largest one-day volume in tests since the pandemic began.
She added that more than 2,000 were processed throughout the weekend.
“We have a huge team, including public health … there’s a huge amount of people doing work behind the scenes to address this crisis right now.”
Once public health learned of the potential exposure in Campbellton, Russell urged all residents to get tested regardless if they have symptoms.
Now, Russell said, tests will only be conducted for those with at least two symptoms.
“Anybody who has symptoms will get tested,” she said. “We will ensure the focus remains on those who are at the highest risk.”
‘The blame is the virus’
After it became known that Campbellton was dealing with a spike in cases, the province announced Zone 5, which includes the community, will move down to the Orange level of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
All other zones in New Brunswick are expected to stay at the Yellow level.
Russell stressed the importance of not pointing the finger at any one person, as the province will experience sporadic increases in cases until a vaccine is found.
“We need to support each other. We need to help each other out,” she said. “I know that people want to blame others, but really the blame is the virus. It’s not the people, it’s the virus.
“It won’t help slow the virus and suffering if we are just angry about it.”
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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