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COVID-19: N.B. reports 109 new cases, bulk in Fredericton region

Click to play video: 'Dr. Lisa Barrett talks Omicron variant, holiday plans' Dr. Lisa Barrett talks Omicron variant, holiday plans
WATCH: “Compared with last year we know a lot more and so we can be definitive on what we need to do … no one’s talking about cancelling Christmas just modifying it” Dr. Lisa Barrett weighs in on what we know about Omicron and how to handle holiday plans. – Dec 14, 2021

New Brunswick reported two COVID-19-related deaths Tuesday, and 109 new cases, the bulk of which are in the Fredericton region.

The deaths involve a person in their 70s in Zone 1 (Moncton region) and a person in their 60s in Zone 3 (Fredericton region).

Read more: N.B. announces several Omicron cases, says related to St. FX outbreak in N.S.

Of the new COVID-19 cases, 20 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region), 15 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region), 46 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), five are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), six are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), six are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 11 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).

According to the Tuesday report, there are 44 people in hospital, including 14 in ICU. There is one person under the age of 19 hospitalized.

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Click to play video: 'N.B. teen who was in ICU with COVID-19 speaks out' N.B. teen who was in ICU with COVID-19 speaks out
N.B. teen who was in ICU with COVID-19 speaks out – Dec 13, 2021

On Monday, the province confirmed several Omicron variant cases, which were linked to an outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.

“The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre’s microbiology laboratory in Moncton will continue to test identified samples to determine their COVID-19 variant,” the province said Tuesday.

The province has introduced temporary restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, which includes gathering limits and physical distancing.

Government of NB. Government of NB

COVID in schools

According to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are five schools with new cases and 59 total schools currently impacted.

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The province said active cases “continue to primarily affect elementary schools.”

Read more: When parents, kids disagree on COVID-19 vaccines

In response, and to limit the spread of COVID-19, students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will begin their holiday break this Friday, at the end of the school day.

Families are also being asked to pick up rapid test kits. Anyone who receives a positive rapid test result has to isolate immediately and book a test at an assessment centre.

Race against Omicron

On the political side, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the government is in a race against the Omicron variant.

“Like with Delta, we were racing the train. Unfortunately, the train has arrived in New Brunswick, so now we’re going to try and keep it from running over us,” she said in the Legislature, Tuesday.

Shephard was responding to questions from interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson on several points of confusion arising from the sudden change in course on the Winter Action Plan on Monday.

The province made the call to add some of the level two restrictions, in an effort to balance the holiday season.

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But still, Melanson questioned whether government could have done more ahead of the Omicron variant’s arrival to curb cases and put more emphasis on vaccination — including for children and booster doses.

“So, accessibility and capacity of vaccination is critical,” he said to reporters.

He said the minister wasn’t clear in her responses on Tuesday on on whether there was enough personnel to staff increased booster shots, which are now open for the 50 to 59 age group.

Both Melanson and Premier Blaine Higgs also expressed worry about those who may go ahead with holiday gatherings despite restrictions.

On Monday, Higgs said without the public’s cooperation, the province would not be successful in limiting the spread of the new variant.

He said the unpredictability is a big factor, and that a move to more restrictive levels of the plan could come within the week.

Higgs said he is watching what happens in Nova Scotia, which has at least 40 cases of the Omicron variant.

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