FREDERICTON (GNB) – Three confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in the province: two in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) and one in Zone 1 (Moncton region).
The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre’s microbiology laboratory in Moncton identified the three samples as positive for the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Another four cases have been identified as presumptive Omicron. All are connected to the current outbreak in Antigonish, N.S.
“The Omicron variant is suggested to be 30 per cent more transmissible than the Delta variant and it is likelier to bypass any natural immunity an individual might have from previous infections,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “This is very concerning. I encourage everyone to get their vaccinations as they become eligible and adhere to Public Health measures. Doing so will help protect yourself and your community while reducing the spread of the virus.”
Since the Omicron variant was declared a variant of concern on Nov. 26, 388 samples, including all travel-related cases, have been processed at the laboratory. Three were confirmed as Omicron and the rest were identified as the Delta variant.
Government implementing interim measures
The provincial government is introducing further measures in response to the arrival of the Omicron variant. These changes include:
- Organized sport and all other organized activities for children under 12 are prohibited as of tonight at 11:59 p.m.
- Beginning tonight at 11:59 p.m., for those 12 and older, practices and skills drills are permitted involving only a single team at a time, under an operational plan that includes reasonable effort to ensure distancing and sanitization.
- Students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will begin their holiday break on Friday, Dec.17, at the end of the regular school day. This is one week ahead of schedule.
To allow time for businesses to prepare, the following measures come into effect on Friday at 11:59 p.m.:
- People must limit their household contacts to a maximum of a Steady 20.
- Distancing must be maintained at all times in businesses, retail establishments, gyms, salons and spas. Patrons are permitted to dine at restaurants but a distance of two metres must be maintained between tables and proof of vaccination is still required.
- Entertainment centres, including movie theatres, professional sporting events, casinos, etc., will be operating at 50 per cent capacity with distancing of two metres.
“These steps are necessary to reduce the spread of Omicron and other variants as much as possible and to protect our health-care system, as keeping our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed is crucial,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “At the same time, we are trying to find balance, so businesses are impacted minimally during a busy time of year and New Brunswickers are able to spend time with their loved ones celebrating the holiday season.”
“As we have seen in other provinces, the increased number of cases from the Omicron variant will lead to an increased number of hospitalizations,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “We must do everything we can to protect our health-care system and the many people who work there. If we do not, both COVID and non-COVID health-care services will be significantly impacted.”
More information on the new measures and the winter plan to manage COVID-19 is available online.
69 recoveries / 100 new cases
Public Health reported today that 69 people have recovered from COVID-19 and there are 100 new cases of the virus, with the active number of cases at 1,048.
There are 14 people in intensive care and another 27 are in hospital for a total of 41 people hospitalized. Of those in hospital, 23 are over the age of 60 and five people are on a ventilator. There is one person under 19 hospitalized. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Five of the 41 people hospitalized were initially admitted for other reasons and contracted COVID-19 due to outbreaks at hospitals in Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi. Most of these people are exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms.
Public Health has confirmed a person 60-69 in Zone 1 (Moncton region) and a person 70-79 in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) have died as a result of COVID-19.
The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU, as well as new cases, continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated. Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Of the new cases today, 12 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region), 14 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region), 52 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), seven are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), one is in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), three are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 11 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).
The COVID-19 dashboard has been enhanced and now contains information that was previously included in the daily updates. Age and origin of new cases, as well as additional information, is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Public Health reported today that 82.3 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 88.6 per cent have received their first dose and 9.2 per cent have received a booster dose.
Additional booster clinics will be available through regional health authority community COVID-19 vaccination clinics and at participating pharmacies.
Those who are eligible for pediatric vaccinations or booster doses can schedule an appointment through a regional health authority community COVID-19 vaccination clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy. In addition, those over the age of 12 who have not yet received a first or second dose remain eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
A detailed list of those eligible for a booster dose is available online.
Update on schools and child-care facilities
Since Friday, 42 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in schools and child-care facilities in zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7. More information on the affected schools is available on the Healthy and Safe Schools website and on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Active cases continue to primarily affect elementary schools. Students and staff are reminded to continue following the Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines and all Public Health safety measures, which include vaccination, washing hands or using sanitizer, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and staying home and getting tested if symptoms appear.
Due to the number of positive cases among students in the Fredericton region, rapid-test kits are being distributed to all kindergarten-to-Grade 8 students in that region beginning today. Families can also pick up rapid tests at several locations around the province.
Families at other schools in the province impacted by COVID-19 are also encouraged to pick up rapid tests. If their child has been identified as a close contact, the tests will be provided through their school; otherwise they are available from the nearest pick-up location.
In Zone 3 schools with active cases, students will be required to use rapid testing to manage the risk of transmission. Only staff identified as close contacts will be required to use rapid testing. In schools that have not had active cases in the past 14 days, it is recommended – but not mandatory – that students test daily.
Anyone who receives a positive rapid-test result, or who is experiencing one symptom of COVID-19, must isolate immediately and book a test at an assessment centre.
“We have continuously worked with Public Health to keep our schools as healthy and safe as possible while we live through the pandemic,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “By dismissing kindergarten-to-Grade 6 students early, we are allowing these younger students – who have only just become eligible to be vaccinated – to reduce their number of contacts leading up to the holidays and allowing families more time to pick up rapid-testing kits for the break.”
All of New Brunswick is currently in the Level 1 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19. More information on the plan, including the increased measures, is available online.
Any household in New Brunswick with a positive case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals advised by Public Health or a physician, including confirmed cases of COVID-19, must isolate. More information about isolation is available online.
Potential public exposure locations and dates are listed online. A map of potential public exposures can also be found on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Information and resources to help New Brunswickers live with COVID-19 is available on the COVID-19 guidance and resources webpage.
Information about testing, including booking PCR tests and using rapid tests, is available at www.gnb.ca/GetTestedCOVID19.
Travellers, including New Brunswickers returning to the province, must register their travel with the travel registration program.
Holiday guidelines for individuals, retailers and event organizers on how to plan for a happy and safe holiday season are available online.
December 13th, 2021
Dear ASD-N Families,
Thank you for your continued cooperation and support as we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 Global Pandemic.
This afternoon, the Province of New Brunswick announced new restrictions and safety guidelines affecting schools across the province. As of midnight tonight, all youth sports for children under 12 years old are cancelled until further notice, including all community use of schools for youth sports. The province will provide an update when these programs may resume. In addition, all youth sports for ages 12 and over will be reduced to one team practices/skills and drills only. All upcoming games and tournaments are cancelled until further notice from the province.
The Province of N.B. also announced that classes for students in grades Kindergarten to Grade 6 will be dismissed for the holiday break at the end of the day on Friday, December 17th as opposed to midday on Thursday, December 23rd. This decision is being made in an effort to curb the spread of COVID, among students who are not yet fully vaccinated (ages 5-11), to more vulnerable members of the community. There is no expectation for learning for these grades until school resumes on Monday, January 10th, 2022. All K – Gr. 6 staff will report to their respective schools next week to prepare for January.
Students in Grades 7-12 will continue to attend school until midday on Thursday, December 23rd as previously planned.
All students in grades Kindergarten to Grade 8 will receive rapid testing kits this week. We will let families know when we receive these kits from the province and provide further instructions at that time.
Thank you for your continued patience.
Rest assured, student safety remains our highest priority.