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‘We need leadership:’ Questions raised about lack of guidance amid N.B. respiratory virus wave

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick Opposition calls for more public health guidance as respiratory illnesses increase'
New Brunswick Opposition calls for more public health guidance as respiratory illnesses increase
WATCH: New Brunswick is dealing with an increase in respiratory illnesses, like the rest of the country. COVID-19 is still a factor but influenza and RSV are also impacting the health-care system. That’s leading to questions in the legislature from the official Opposition demanding more public health guidance. Nathalie Sturgeon reports. – Nov 17, 2022

The two Opposition parties in New Brunswick have questioned where Public Health guidance has been given the province is dealing with various respiratory viruses.

“Where is Dr. Leger?” asked Liberal House Leader Rob McKee during question period Thursday. “He has not been made available for public briefings over the last several weeks. Where is Public Health on this issue?”

Acting chief medical officer of Health Dr. Yves Leger, who has stepped in for Dr. Jennifer Russell, has been unavailable to the media over the past few weeks, with staff in the department saying he has been busy.

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In New Brunswick, like some other provinces, influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have been impacting the health-care system.

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It’s being called the triple threat by doctors in other provinces.

Megan Mitton, Green MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, said New Brunswickers are seeking guidance from both the acting CMOH and the minister, but they aren’t getting it.

“What we’re saying is that they are absent. We need leadership,” she said.

“The minister said Public Health has been consistent, what I would say lately is, they’ve been consistently absent, and what I would say is the minister has been consistently absent.”.

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Each week the province releases a weekly COVID-19 report and influenza report. RSV is not a reportable disease in New Brunswick and therefore is not tracked.

Cases of COVID-19 have decreased slightly, according to the government’s data.

Since the beginning of flu season, the province says 59 cases of influenza have been reported. Two people have died as a result of the flu.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch said he expects the CMOH to be available to answer questions, and late in the day, the department announced Leger would be available to reporters on Friday.

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“People still need to assess their own risk tolerance,” Fitch told reporters on Thursday, adding that messaging around vaccination, hand hygiene and staying home when you’re sick has not changed.

Still, the Liberals said those working in Public Health should be free to speak openly about the situation happening in the province.

“I believe that they are being muzzled by the Department of Health and by the Premier to not come out and talk … if they’re going to say something that the government doesn’t agree with … maybe that’s what’s going on,” Rob McKee said.

He said information about the viruses and any guidance on them should come directly from Public Health and the doctors who work in that department.

Click to play video: 'Talk of masking in New Brunswick as respiratory illnesses spike'
Talk of masking in New Brunswick as respiratory illnesses spike

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