No plans for border restrictions amid two New Brunswick COVID-19 outbreaks: N.S. premier

Click to play video: 'N.S. premier says no changes to provincial border as N.B. COVID-19 cases rise'
N.S. premier says no changes to provincial border as N.B. COVID-19 cases rise
WATCH: Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says the province is monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick closely, but Nova Scotia has no plans to make any changes at the provincial border. Jesse Thomas reports – Oct 14, 2020

Nova Scotia has no plans to impose border restrictions following two COVID-19 outbreaks in neighbouring New Brunswick, Premier Stephen McNeil said Wednesday.

Speaking at a COVID-19 media briefing, McNeil said health officials from his province continue to monitor the situation, but he is confident that New Brunswick has taken the proper steps to deal with the outbreaks.

“While the number of (New Brunswick) cases are startling . . . we need to trust the advice of public health in what we’ve been doing,” McNeil said. “I think it’s incumbent on those of us who are neighbours to New Brunswick to continue be good neighbours and continue to follow the science.”

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang added that’s what’s happened in New Brunswick is an important reminder that COVID-19 is still here and it can quickly “rear its head.”

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“It’s a reminder that we must not become complacent simply because we’ve gone long stretches with very few or no cases here in Nova Scotia,” Strang said.

Strang said there were no indications of community spread of the virus so far in the New Brunswick outbreaks in Moncton and Campbellton, and there is no evidence of increased risk to travellers.

He said as a result there was no need to immediately impose any travel restrictions between the two provinces.

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Strang said imposing restrictions at the border is difficult in any event, because of the volume of commercial traffic that transits between the two provinces and the number of people who live on one side of the border and work on the other.

“We’d have to go back to stopping individual cars and saying, ‘Where have you been?’ so there’s a lot of logistic issues and also economic impacts,” he said. “So far there’s nothing that would suggest that there’s a general increased risk of COVID.”

New Brunswick meanwhile, reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. There have been 292 cases reported in the province to date with 90 currently active.

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Six of the new cases were in the Campbellton region in the north of the province, involving people ranging in age from their 30s to their 60s. The other two cases were in the Moncton region and are linked to an outbreak at the Notre-Dame Manor special-care home.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said it was clear through contact tracing that the source of the outbreak in Moncton is travel-related, adding that 150 people are currently self-isolating as a result.

Russell said 320 people are self-isolating as a result of the Campbellton outbreak. She said the province is offering regular testing for people who travel for work from Quebec to Campbellton.

“We have thousands of people coming into our province every day, and one of those people could bring it (the virus) with them,” Russell said. “Please do not go to work, don’t go to school, don’t socialize with other people if you’re not feeling well.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak declared at Campbellton care home as more cases reported in N.B.'
Coronavirus outbreak declared at Campbellton care home as more cases reported in N.B.

The news out of New Brunswick also had health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reassuring the public on Wednesday.

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Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the outbreaks were “regional” and as of now “there is no evidence to support Newfoundland and Labrador leaving the Atlantic bubble.”

Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and has four active cases with one patient in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

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