New Brunswick health officials reported seven new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Four new cases are located in the Saint John area and three in the Fredericton area.
These areas, alongside Moncton, remain in the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery.
Chief of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a Tuesday provincial update that the zones are not ready to transition back to the yellow phase.
Saint John super-spreader event
Russell said in the briefing that Public Health identified two “super-spreader” events that occurred in Saint John on the same night.
One of the events was directly responsible for 60 COVID-19 cases in that zone. Russell said 34 people who attended the event tested positive and infected 26 cases indirectly, when attendees infected those they came in contact with.
The event was responsible for 80 per cent of active cases in this zone.
“Our information suggests that an individual or individuals, that were asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic at the time, went to the event and originating this outbreak.”
Russell said this isn’t about pointing blame, but a teaching moment. “It’s really about empowering yourself with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
She said Public Health doesn’t know all the details of the super-spreader event, but transmission is easy if people aren’t distancing and are not wearing masks. She said it is not always possible to know who is carrying the virus.
“That is why it is really best to just assume that at all times, everyone around you is infected and act accordingly.”
Russell said community transmission is relatively rare in New Brunswick as most cases are linked to each other. Only three per cent of confirmed cases came from community spread to date.
Education minister on orange zones
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said at the Tuesday briefing that eight schools in the province have been impacted with a positive case of COVID-19.
The province is reminding schools of public health protection measures in the orange recovery phases.
All extracurricular activities in schools under the orange phase will be limited to skills and drills practices within one team only.
Sports teams must be vigilant in screening, and maintaining Public Health protocols.
“Physical education classes should focus on activities that allow for physical distancing, such as yoga, dancing and moderate walking,” the province said.
Cardy says while he knows this may disappoint athletes, parents and teachers, it is a necessary step to curb the spread of the virus.
“Unfortunately, at this time it would not be prudent for competitive sporting events to continue but we strongly encourage students and families to use every avenue open to them to stay active and healthy.”
Cardy said in the briefing that since positive cases were detected in schools, many parents have been keeping their children at home.
He said he understands parents are anxious, but when it comes to COVID-19 Cardy said “no news is good news.”
He said parents will be notified if their child has been a close contact of a positive case. If they do not her from Public Health, that means there was no close contact.
Cardy urged parents to continue sending their kids to school, mentioning the mental health impacts of missing school.
“Unless you’ve heard from Public Health, if your schools’ open, please send your kids to school,” Cardy said.
He said students need to learn and to socialize, even with the restrictions in place. If the situation in New Brunswick changes, Cardy said the government will not hesitate to move to online learning.