Five more New Brunswickers have died of COVID-19, the province’s health minister announced Friday.
Four of the deaths were in the Moncton region, involving two people in their 60s, a person in their 70s and a person in their 80s. A person in their 70s in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, has also died.
“Every time we learn that more people have lost their life because of the virus, it is incredibly difficult and I know all New Brunswickers are feeling the impact of these losses,” said Dorothy Shephard during a news conference Friday.
The province reported 40 new COVID-19 cases and 67 recoveries and Shephard said she was pleased to see the number of recoveries were higher than new cases.
“This is a positive trend that will hopefully continue,” she said.
Of the 40 new cases, 29 were unvaccinated, two were partially vaccinated and nine were fully vaccinated.
There are currently 50 people in hospital due to the virus, of whom 25 are unvaccinated, three are partially vaccinated and 22 are fully vaccinated. There are 15 people in ICU, 14 of whom are unvaccinated and one is partially vaccinated.
7,000 public service employees yet to be vaccinated
Shephard noted that earlier in the month, the province announced that all public service employees would need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 19. If they are not able to show proof of vaccination by that date, they will be sent home without pay.
Workers include school staff and volunteers, early childhood and child care providers, health and long-term care workers, among others.
Since that announcement, Shephard said there has been “significant improvement” in the number of employees who have been fully vaccinated. On Oct. 5, 18.9 per cent of their approximately 59,500 employees have not been vaccinated. This week, that number dropped to 13 per cent.
The health minister said she was concerned that about 7,000 employees have yet to receive a single dose. A further 650 still need their second dose, she said.
“We simply cannot afford to have unvaccinated people working in New Brunswick’s public service,” she said. “The potential risks to coworkers, patients, students and members of the public is too high.”
Shephard noted that after Friday, those who don’t yet have their first dose won’t have enough time to get their second by the Nov. 19 deadline, since 28 days must pass between doses.
“This means they will spend at least some time home from work without pay,” she said, adding she urges people who are not yet fully vaccinated to get their shots as soon as possible.
“I remain hopeful that in the next month, more people in the public service will choose to get vaccinated.”
As of Friday, 83.3 per cent of all eligible New Brunswickers have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and 92 per cent have received their first dose.
As well, beginning Friday, health-care personnel and First Nations communities can begin booking booster dose appointments.
Shephard also announced Halloween guidelines for trick-or-treaters next week.
There are a number of circuit-breaker areas with tougher measures as the province struggles to get the fourth wave of COVID-19 under control. Those areas are: Zone 1 (Moncton region) as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent and Havelock in Zone 2, Zone 3 (Fredericton region) in the upper Saint John River valley north of and including Florenceville-Bristol, all of Zone 4 (Edmundston region), and all of Zone 5, the Campbellton region.
Those in the above areas may trick-or-treat, but only with household. People outside of those areas may trick or treat with their household, plus up to 20 consistent contacts.
Those handing out treats in non-circuit-breaker areas are asked to sanitize their hands between visitors, keep high-tough areas like door handles and railings clean, and provide treats through “touchless means.”
It asks that people not permit kids to take candy from a bowl of treats, unless the treats are arranged in a way that allows them to take one without touching the others. Individual treat bags are also encouraged.
Those in circuit-breaker areas must provide treats through touchless means, and people must wear masks when they are unable to maintain a distance of at least two metres.
Extra-curricular sports update
Effective Friday, teams and extra-curricular groups will be able to travel within New Brunswick, including in and out of circuit breaker communities.
Those under the age of 12 in circuit breaker communities will also be able to resume school sports and extracurricular activities.
Spectators will be able to attend school-related events held outside of school facilities if they show proof of vaccination for two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Of the 40 new cases, 25 were in Zone 1, the Moncton region. They involve:
- 10 people 19 and under;
- two people 20-29;
- four people 30-39;
- four people 50-59;
- three people 60-69;
- a person 70-79; and
- a person 80-89.
Twenty-four cases are under investigation and one is a contact of a previously confirmed case.
Three new cases were in Zone 2, the Saint John region. They involve:
- a person 20-29;
- a person 40-49; and
- a person 60-69.
All three are under investigation.
There were five new cases found in Zone 3, the Fredericton region. They involve:
- three people 19 and under;
- a person 20-29; and
- a person 30-39.
All five are under investigation.
There were also five new cases in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, which involve:
- a person 19 and under;
- a person 30-39;
- a person 50-59; and
- two people 60-69.
They are also all under investigation.
And there were two new cases in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, both in people 19 and under. One case is under investigation and the other is a contact of a previously confirmed case.