New Brunswick has announced that the area around the Edmundston region, which had previously been in the orange COVID-19 alert level, will be joining the rest of the province in the yellow level.
During a briefing on Monday, chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said the number of active cases and hospitalizations in the area has dropped over the past week. As well, there have been no new cases of community transmission.
It will be the first time since mid-March that the entire province has been at the yellow alert level.
“Twice, Zone 4 has endured full lockdowns as the second and the third waves of the pandemic has hit our province,” said Russell.
“Your patience and perseverance have enabled us to slow the spread of this virus and bring this outbreak under control and I’m so very, very proud of all the hard work that people are doing and have done to manage that.”
The change will take place at midnight.
Meanwhile, the province is announcing 11 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, although only five of the people are physically in New Brunswick. The remaining six are New Brunswickers who are isolating in another province.
Russell said she understands this type of reporting, which is used by other provinces in the country, can be confusing and they are looking at changing the way they report to make it clearer.
Vaccination eligibility widens
The province also announced that people aged 40 and over can now schedule an appointment to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The bookings can be made through Vitalité or Horizon health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy.
“Getting more vaccines into more arms across New Brunswick is a big step to moving us towards a more normal life for all of us. But everyone must remain vigilant and follow public health guidance — the vaccinated people just as much as the unvaccinated,” Russell said.
“And just anecdotally, I have seen cases and we’ve seen cases in different situations where people have been vaccinated and still contracted COVID-19 and until our entire population is protected, we have to remain vigilant.
She warned that receiving a first dose of the vaccine does not “enable you to throw aside your mask and go out and party with your friends.”
She added that while the CDC website in the United States might make certain recommendations, “we are in Canada and we are in New Brunswick and our situation is very different.”
Russell said everyone should be cautious until there is maximum benefit from the vaccines, which is two to three weeks after the second dose. She added it won’t be until September that the majority of New Brunswickers will have reached that level.
She said she has still heard of transmission in cases where people were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
“We know that surfaces have been implicated in some of the transmission of the variants recently so handwashing is super, super, super important,” she said.
Guidelines for school graduations
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development also released guidelines for high school graduation ceremonies.
School-organized proms will not go ahead this year, however graduation ceremonies can take place so long as they follow public health rules.
Ceremonies will follow the province’s mandatory order — and what is allowed will depend on whether the event is hosted by the school or a privately-owned facility.
The type of ceremony will also depend on what alert level the area is in a that time.
Minister Dominic Cardy asked those planning graduations to make sure students were staying safe.
“I’d like to urge families planning their own celebrations to recognize the accomplishments of their grads,” he said.
“We talk about safe grad ceremonies around having alcohol and drug-free grad ceremonies. Let’s try to make sure we have COVID-free grad ceremonies this year.”
Confirmed cases at school and exposure notifications
A positive case was identified at Dr. A. T. Leatherbarrow Primary School in Hampton on May 9, and staff and families have been asked to self-isolate until 11:59 p.m. Monday until contact tracing is complete.
As well, a positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Go-Go After School at Hampton Elementary on May 9 and families were notified. Children, staff and families have also been asked to self-isolate until 11:59 p.m. for contact tracing.
Public health has identified the following potential public exposures in Zone 1 (Moncton region):
- Pumphouse, 5 Orange Ln, Moncton on May 4 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- Staples, 233 Main St., Moncton on May 5, between noon and 8 p.m.
- Walmart Supercentre, 477 Paul St., Dieppe on May 6, between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- Greco Pizza, 311 Acadie Blvd., Dieppe on May 7, between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on May 6 while on the following flights:
- Air Canada Flight 396 – from Edmonton to Toronto, departed at 6:50 a.m.
- Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:43 p.m.