A top infectious disease specialist in New Brunswick says the decision to remove all restrictions and move the province to the green level at the end of July was a mistake.
There was another record-breaking day of new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths on Friday, capping off a week that has seen an average of 67 new cases and one new hospitalization each day, in a province that has traditionally recorded very low COVID-19 numbers.
“Absolutely, all of us in this room right now, with the evidence of this rapid increase in Delta virus in this province, would all agree that was not the right decision to make,” Dr. Gordon Dow, an infectious disease specialist with the Horizon Health Network, told reporters in a technical briefing Friday afternoon.
But Dow — who helps advise the province but does not make these types of decisions — said he makes that comment with the benefit of retrospect, and said other provinces made the same mistake too.
He noted that New Brunswick was previously able to keep other outbreaks under control, but the rapid rise of the Delta variant was a game-changer.
“Did we under-call this one? I would say yes, and I think most New Brunswickers would agree with that,” said Dow.
“But I would also say that we got it right 85 per cent of the time and now what we’re going to do is we’re going to pivot and we’ll bring this under control.”
Premier ‘not very happy’
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has faced some criticism for lifting restrictions back in July.
The move to green came before the province had reached its initial goal to vaccinate at least 75 per cent of the eligible population against COVID-19.
In a news conference Friday, Higgs announced the province would reinstate its state of emergency and introduce additional measures to help curb the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which is now the predominant variant in New Brunswick.
Asked if he had regrets, during a news conference Friday, Higgs said he was “obviously not very happy” about the current situation. Higgs said he made the decision on July 31 based on the information that was available at the time.
“Through my life, there’s lots of times in hindsight I would do things differently and yes, could this be one of them? In hindsight,” he said.
“Right now, we’re reacting to the situation we’re in.”