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N.B. reports 199 COVID-19 cases since Friday, mandatory masking to return

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick reports highest-ever number of active COVID-19 cases' New Brunswick reports highest-ever number of active COVID-19 cases
WATCH: New Brunswick is reporting the highest number of active COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Across the province, 484 people have the virus after 199 new cases over the weekend, and that means the province is bringing in health and safety measures many hoped were behind us. Tim Roszell reports. – Sep 20, 2021

Mandatory indoor masking is back in New Brunswick, after the province reported 199 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and broke yet another daily record.

Public Health made the masking recommendation, and the province says the rule will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.

Read more: Increased demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, testing as N.B. ponders new restrictions

The move coincides with the province’s new proof of vaccination program for those who wish to enter recreational establishments or long-term care facilities.

During a news briefing on Monday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said 75 cases were recorded on Sunday — making it the highest single-day case count since the pandemic began in 2020.

There are 23 people hospitalized due to the virus, with 14 in an intensive care unit. The province now has 484 active cases.

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Russell said 152 out of the 199 new cases were not fully vaccinated. She also said 57 of the cases involve people under the age of 19.

She said the “great majority” or people in hospital or in intensive care from the virus are not fully vaccinated.

Currently, 77.8 per cent of those eligible — that is, aged 12 and older — have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Click to play video: 'N.B. premier says province ‘will act in any way necessary’ to bring COVID-19 cases under control' N.B. premier says province ‘will act in any way necessary’ to bring COVID-19 cases under control
N.B. premier says province ‘will act in any way necessary’ to bring COVID-19 cases under control – Sep 20, 2021

Russell said she didn’t “foresee” that vaccination would plateau, and said the province needs to quickly ramp up the number of people vaccinated to better protect the fragile health-care system.

“We need to make as much progress as we can as quickly as we can,” she said.

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“It’s not about the volume of cases. It’s about who’s getting infected and the impact that this is having on our already strained health-care system.”

Premier Blaine Higgs admitted that vaccination rates fell after the province entered the green phase of its reopening plan on July 30 — calling that drop-off a “disappointment.”

Click to play video: 'N.B. premier stands by decision to move into green phase of COVID-19 reopening during summer' N.B. premier stands by decision to move into green phase of COVID-19 reopening during summer
N.B. premier stands by decision to move into green phase of COVID-19 reopening during summer – Sep 20, 2021

However, he said he stood by his decision to move into the phase, and thereby lifting all restrictions, because it was “based on science and availability of information.”

“Given the facts, I’d certainly do the same thing again,” he said.

Higgs said the province will be watching the cases closely and meeting with Public Health this week to see what the next steps will be.

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“We will act in any way necessary to bring this under control and bring it back down,” he said of the rising number of cases.

Russell said the projections for this week is that the province will see more than 100 cases per day.

“We’re on a steady incline towards that,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any change to that projection or trajectory at this point.”

Cases at schools and child care facilities

Positive cases have been confirmed at schools in zones 1 (Moncton region), 4 (Edmundston region) and 5 (Campbellton region).

Affected schools will close or move to online learning for at least one calendar day, while contact tracing takes place.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine effective in children ages 5 to 11, Pfizer says

The affected schools and daycares are:

Zone 1 (Moncton region)

  • École Saint-Henri in Moncton; Tantramar Regional High School in Sackville
  • Port Elgin Regional School; and Birchmount School in Moncton
  • Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton
  • Sonshine Kids Academy in Moncton
  • Greater Moncton School of Discovery Afterschool in Moncton

Zone 4 (Edmundston region)

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  • John Caldwell School in Grand Falls
  • Carrefour de la Jeunesse in Edmundston
  • École Mgr-Lang in Drummond
  • Polyvalente Alexandre-J.-Savoie in Saint-Quentin

Zone 5 (Campbellton region)

  • Galion des Appalaches in Campbellton

A testing program is being set up at Southern Victoria High School, in response to “a high number of cases impacting schools in the Perth-Andover community.” The clinic will use rapid testing. If a test yields a positive result, a PCR test will be used to confirm.

Breakdown of cases

The 46 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • eight people 19 and under
  • nine people 20-29
  • five people 30-39
  • eight people 40-49
  • seven people 60-69
  • four people 70-79
  • two people 80-89
  • three people 90 and over

A total of 32 cases are under investigation and 14 are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The six new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • two people 19 and under
  • a person 30-39
  • a person 50-59
  • a person 60-69
  • a person 70-79

Two cases are under investigation and four cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The 69 new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

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  • 19 people 19 and under
  • eight people 20-29
  • two people 30-39
  • eight people 40-49
  • 11 people 50-59
  • 14 people 60-69
  • four people 70-79
  • three people 80-89

A total of 44 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and 25 are under investigation.

The 29 new cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) are as follows:

  • 11 people 19 and under
  • seven people 20-29
  • three people 30-39
  • a person 40-49
  • two people 50-59
  • two people 70-79
  • three people 80-89

A total of 15 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and 14 are under investigation.

The 35 new cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) are as follows:

  • 14 people 19 and under
  • 12 people 20-29
  • four people 30-39
  • a person 40-49
  • three people 50-59
  • a person 70-79

A total of 17 cases are under investigation, 17 are contacts of previously confirmed cases and one case is travel related.

The 13 new cases in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) are as follows:

  • three people 19 and under
  • a person 20-29
  • two people 30-39
  • four people 40-49
  • three people 60-69

Eight cases are under investigation and five are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The one new case in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) is a person 70-79. The case is under investigation.

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New restrictions set to begin this week

Monday marks the first day of new measures being taken at schools to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new changes includes bringing in classroom bubbles, not permitting assemblies, and holding physical education classes outdoors.

As well, students who are eligible to be vaccinated — in other words, aged 12 and older — must be vaccinated in order to take part in extracurricular and intramural activities as of Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the province will begin its proof of vaccination policy. People will need to show proof of full vaccination in order to take part in certain events and enter certain non-essential businesses. The policy includes restaurants, bars, movie theatres, gyms and visiting long-term care facilities.

As of Wednesday, every person entering New Brunswick — including New Brunswickers returning to the province — must pre-register.

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Health-care workers facing ‘harassment and abuse’

Higgs said repeatedly on Monday that he understood what strain health-care workers, particularly nurses, were facing.

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Read more: ‘It’s really serious’: Nurses across New Brunswick say they’ve passed the breaking point

He added while health-care workers were dealing with staffing shortages and rising COVID-19 cases, they were also dealing with “harassment and abuse” and having to enter their workplaces through a line of people protesting vaccine mandates.

“This is completely unacceptable,” he said. “It’s a difficult profession and I commend them.”

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