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N.B. reports 6 new cases of COVID-19 as residents urged to follow restrictions over the holidays

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick looking ahead to its upcoming COVID-19 vaccine batches' New Brunswick looking ahead to its upcoming COVID-19 vaccine batches
WATCH: New Brunswick is two days away from giving its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and even before the initial rollout behinds, the province is already looking ahead to its second and third batches. Travis Fortnum reports – Dec 17, 2020

New Brunswick is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 as the province’s top doctor urged residents to follow COVID-19 restrictions during the holidays.

“I suggest the best gift you can give this year is the gift of safety. It remains very important to keep your number of close contacts low, especially during the holiday period,” Dr. Jennifer Russell said at a provincial update on Thursday afternoon.

Russell confirmed that there are now 55 active cases in the province.

The new cases are spread throughout three regions in the province.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: New Brunswick reports six new cases of COVID-19' Coronavirus: New Brunswick reports six new cases of COVID-19
Coronavirus: New Brunswick reports six new cases of COVID-19 – Dec 17, 2020

There are three new cases in the Edmundston zone: two people under the age of 19; and an individual between the ages of 40 and 49.

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Two of the new cases are located in the Moncton region: an individual between the ages of 60 and 69; and an individual under the age of 19.

Read more: Staff at Sackville nursing home will be among the first in N.B. to get the COVID-19 vaccine

The final case is located in the Saint John region.

Russell confirmed the new case is located at Parkland’s Tucker Hall facility in Saint John and was detected after another round of testing at the facility.

The individual is an employee at the facility and there have now been 20 cases linked to the outbreak.

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Eight are staff and 12 residents are at the facility.

Russell said regular testing of residents and staff will continue, with another round being conducted on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Staff at Sackville nursing home will be among the first in N.B. to get the COVID-19 vaccine' Staff at Sackville nursing home will be among the first in N.B. to get the COVID-19 vaccine
Staff at Sackville nursing home will be among the first in N.B. to get the COVID-19 vaccine – Dec 16, 2020

 

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A case has also been tied to Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover.

Students will learn from home for the remainder of the week and the province stressed that no student-to-student transmission has been determined in any school.

Close contacts will be contacted by the province’s public health department. If parents or students are not contacted, then they have not been identified as a close contact.

There have now been 573 cases of the coronavirus in New Brunswick, of which 509 are considered to be recovered.

There are currently three New Brunswickers in the hospital, two of whom are in the ICU. There have been eight deaths.

As of Thursday, the province has completed 143,328 COVID-19 tests.

Vaccinations begin this weekend

At the update on Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs reiterated that the first 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered in Miramichi.

“This is a significant step forward in our province’s journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will take several months before enough of our population is vaccinated and we are able to move to the green (phase of the COVID-19 recovery plan),” Higgs said.

Priority groups will receive the vaccine at an immunization clinic at the Miramichi Regional Hospital on Saturday and Sunday.

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Russell said that she will not be jumping the line to receive the vaccine and stressed that she will wait her turn.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswickers react following arrival of COVID-19 vaccines' New Brunswickers react following arrival of COVID-19 vaccines
New Brunswickers react following arrival of COVID-19 vaccines – Dec 15, 2020

“I won’t be sharing my age,” she joked, which would indicate what group she would receive the vaccine in.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept at -70 C, according to Pfizer, whose vaccine got the green light from Health Canada just last week.

Higgs said that it expects to receive 3,900 more doses of the vaccine in Moncton next week.

Half, or 1,950, of the 3,900 doses arriving next week will be held until the weekend of Jan. 9, 2021, to serve as the second dose of the vaccine for those receiving the vaccine this weekend.

The other half will be used to administer two doses to an additional 975 people in New Brunswick.

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Higgs confirmed that regular, weekly doses of the vaccine are scheduled to begin arriving in New Brunswick the week of Jan. 11.

Future clinics will be held elsewhere in the province to ensure easy access, he said and stressed that New Brunswick is “well prepared” to receive and distribute further doses.

Read more: How New Brunswick’s four-step plan to recover from COVID-19 works

The Edmundston zone remains in the orange phase of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

Among the rules in the orange phase are a requirement of a one household bubble, two metres of physical distancing, and a mandatory mask while in indoor and outdoor public spaces.

All other regions remain in the yellow phase.

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