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COVID-19: N.B. top doctor blames rule-breakers for prolonging Moncton outbreak

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick’s top doctor blames rule-breakers for prolonging Moncton COVID-19 outbreak'
New Brunswick’s top doctor blames rule-breakers for prolonging Moncton COVID-19 outbreak
WATCH: New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health says she's concerned people in the Moncton area may not be following COVID-19 health orders. As Tim Roszell reports, the region is still reporting high numbers of COVID-19 cases, despite several weeks of circuit-breaker restrictions. – Nov 10, 2021

One of New Brunswick’s health regions which has been under circuit-breaker restrictions for the last several weeks is still reporting high numbers of COVID-19, leading the province’s top doctor to believe there are rule-breakers at play.

The continued COVID-19 activity in Zone 1, the Moncton region, suggests “many people do not respect the circuit breaker measures,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, during a briefing Wednesday.

Currently, the circuit breaker is in place in Zone 1, as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, as well as a large section of Zone 2, the Saint John region.

The province is also extending the circuit breaker to most of Zone 7, the Miramichi region, in response to “sharply” growing case numbers there.

Read more: New Brunswick completes COVID-19 booster shot rollout in nursing homes

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Under those restrictions, private gatherings with people outside their own households are not permitted and travel to and from circuit breaker restrictions is restricted. A full list of rules can be found here.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: New Brunswick Zone 1 outbreak should have been ‘significantly reduced’ by now, top doctor says'
COVID-19: New Brunswick Zone 1 outbreak should have been ‘significantly reduced’ by now, top doctor says

While cases are declining in the Saint John region, they are still surging in the Moncton area despite the circuit breaker measures, said Russell.

“Now, if everyone was following the circuit breaker restrictions by limiting their close contacts to their immediate household, technically speaking, this outbreak should have been significantly reduced by this point,” said Russell.

“It’s a small number of people that can impact a larger group and a larger region, a larger zone, and the hospital system in general.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswickers anticipate U.S. border reopening after nearly 20 months of COVID-19 restrictions'
New Brunswickers anticipate U.S. border reopening after nearly 20 months of COVID-19 restrictions

She said the majority of cases in the Moncton region are being spread within households, and can then be transmitted to close contacts.

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Russell added that she believes most people are respecting the restrictions, “but for those people who aren’t, it’s having a huge impact on this community.”

“I know that the circuit breaker restrictions are very hard to live with,” she acknowledged.

Read more: St. Stephen, N.B. residents not rushing to visit U.S. as border reopens

“They disrupt the pattern of everyday life and hamper our ability to maintain contact with those around us, which is so important for our mental health, and I don’t want to see these restrictions to continue a day longer than necessary.

“But right now they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

In terms of enforcing the rules, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the province is working with its safety partners to work on “observance” and responding to complaints.

She said they will be checking in on the people who are supposed to be self-isolating to ensure that they are doing so.

Circuit breaker areas

During the briefing, Shephard said as of 6 p.m. Friday, almost all of Zone 7, the Miramichi region, will begin circuit breaker measures for at least the next 14 days.

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The restrictions will cover most of that health zone, excluding Black River Bridge and areas to the east, Murray Settlement and areas to the south, and New Jersey and areas to the north.

Shephard said she was “very concerned” about the “stubbornly high” case numbers in the Moncton region, and said circuit breaker measures will continue for another seven days in that region.

Read more: COVID-19: N.S. reports 30 new cases, more long-term care residents test positive

However, she said it will now be reduced to only cover Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview and measures in the other areas will end on Friday at 6 p.m.

Due to a “noticeable improvement” in Zone 2, the Saint John region, circuit breaker measures will end in that region as of 6 p.m. Friday.

New cases

According to a release from the province, there are 69 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Of those, 39 are unvaccinated and 30 are fully vaccinated.

With 44 new recoveries, there are now 548 active cases.

There are currently 17 people in hospital, 13 of whom are unvaccinated and four are fully vaccinated. Of the 11 people in intensive care, 10 are unvaccinated and one is fully vaccinated.

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Just over 86 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 93 per cent have had one dose.

The 11 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under;
  • three people 20-29;
  • a person 30-39;
  • two people 50-59; and
  • a person 70-79.

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

The 21 new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • eight people 19 and under;
  • four people 20-29;
  • two people 30-39;
  • three people 40-49;
  • two people 50-59; and
  • two people 60-69.

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

The 17 new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

  • three people 19 and under;
  • five people 20-29;
  • two people 30-39;
  • three people 40-49;
  • two people 50-59;
  • a person 60-69; and
  • a person 70-79.

Ten cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and seven are under investigation.

The one new case in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) is a person 19 and under. This case is under investigation.

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

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  • two people 19 and under;
  • a person 20-29; and
  • a person 40-49.

Three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and one is under investigation.

The one new case in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) is a person 19 and under and is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

The 14 new cases in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) are as follows:

  • six people 19 and under;
  • three people 20-29;
  • two people 30-39;
  • two people 50-59; and
  • a person 60-69.

Eleven cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and three are under investigation.

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