Nearly 24 hours after New Brunswick lifted restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, cases began to rise and haven’t slowed down since.
There are 167 cases of the virus in the province, and three people are in the hospital. Hospitalizations are the measure the government is using on whether to re-impose restrictions.
That’s something Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said just isn’t good enough.
“For hospitalizations, for ICU admissions, to drive our policy making — we know from how pandemics and even epidemics occur that by the time you have recognized and identified hospitalizations, ICU admissions, even deaths, as becoming notable, you have missed the boat,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Sharkawy said disavowing masks, physical distance, and other COVID-19 protocols is a dangerous game the government shouldn’t be playing.
“We’ve got to do a better at remaining firm on the same principles that worked prior to the advent of vaccines to help control the disease,” he said.
There have been 340 cases in the province since July 1, according to Public Health. About 74 per cent of them were not vaccinated, 17 per cent were partially vaccinated and 11 per cent were fully vaccinated.
A large portion of the cases are in the Moncton region and have spread to at least five other zones, according to Public Health.
“Basically what we’re doing is at this point in time is pulling the pins off grenades and tossing them in different directions and hoping people can shield themselves and that is absolutely dangerous,” Sharkawy said.
It’s been nearly two months since the government addressed the public on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global News did request to speak with Premier Blaine Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell on the situation and the lack of transparency to the public on the outbreak.
A spokesperson for the Executive Council Office directed us to a scrum the Premier had a little less than a week ago.
During the scrum, the Premier was asked what would trigger an escalation of restrictions, like masks.
“We’re not seeing anything that will take us to that point. I mean what we’re seeing in case count and it’s concentrated in the Moncton area,” he said.
“There isn’t anything that says we want to revert back to masks.”
However, that notion is what Sharkawy said violates everything the province should have learned over the past 17 months.
“The tendency to say let’s just close the book on this and go back to normal is one that appeases many people who have so-called pandemic fatigue but one that counters completely the principles of pandemic management.”
As for not addressing the public, Sharkawy said governments across Canada have done a poor job in the transparency required for the public to feel confident in its COVID-19 response.
“If we want to govern and create a situation where we have buy-in from the general public and create a sense of confidence, a sense of solidarity, a sense of community, there has to be consistency,” he said.
“There has to be leadership through communications and we have to be humble enough to admit that we have work to do.”