New Brunswick announced its plan for the initial round of vaccine to be distributed next week as it reported four new cases of COVID-19 Thursday.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said New Brunswick’s shipment of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be used to inoculate long-term care residents and staff, staff from provincial rapid COVID-19 response teams, ambulance workers, health-care workers involved in COVID units, seniors 85 and older and First Nations nurses.
Shephard said the vaccine plan would be carried out by the provincial Emergency Measures Organization.
“We know that vaccinating our entire province is going to be a long process,” Shephard said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but until more vaccine doses are available we must all continue to follow the (health) rules that are in place.”
The first round of vaccinations will be carried out at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, which has an ultralow-temperature freezer to store the vaccine.
Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said the vaccine is expected to arrive in the “coming days.”
“With small shipments initially and logistic limitations it will take some time to immunize these first groups,” he said. “And we want people to understand that it will take much of 2021 to roll out and administer vaccines to all New Brunswickers.”
MacCallum said his vaccine task force was in the process of finalizing how many people from each priority group would get shots in the initial round.
Meanwhile, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced that the Saint John region would return to the less restrictive yellow stage of COVID-19 measures effective midnight Thursday as cases there dwindle.
“This means that the entire province will be again in yellow,” Russell said.
She said three of the cases reported Thursday are in the Edmundston area involving one person each in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The other case is in the Saint John area and involves a person in their 30s.
New Brunswick now has 75 active cases with four people hospitalized and three of those patients in intensive care.
Nova Scotia stimulus spending
In Nova Scotia, the government also reported four new COVID-19 cases as it released details of its spending plans for $229.7 million in stimulus funding aimed at boosting the economy during the pandemic.
Health officials said one new case is in the eastern health zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, while the other three are in the Halifax area. The province now has 64 active cases, down from 71 reported on Wednesday.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang noted the province was into its sixth consecutive day of fewer than 10 new cases.
“Just because our case numbers are low does not mean we can become complacent,” Strang said in a news release.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government released departmental lists for its stimulus funding after several months of requests by reporters and opposition parties.
Of the eight departments that received the funding, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal got the most at $106.6 million for 123 projects – primarily road paving and bridge replacements and repairs.
The Business Department received over $43 million for nine projects, including $13.4 million for work at the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship and $9.3 million for the Maersk Wharf and Halifax waterfront boardwalk.
The Health Department’s allotment was $24.9 million, although the department simply listed the 37 health-care sites that received money and did not provide a list of projects.
Over $18.4 million went to the Education Department, although it too did not specify project work, opting instead to provide a list of 51 schools and three bus garages where work is being done.
None of the departments provided any specific details about the nature of the work being done or which companies were awarded tenders.
Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19.
It was identified in the town of Harbour Breton, on the southern coast of the province, where there are now three active infections. Harbour Breton has about 1,600 people and the town has been on partial lockdown since two cases were announced there over the weekend.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2020.