Renewed state of emergency at NB amid surge in COVID cases

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick was placed in a state of emergency on Friday as the province’s hospitals struggled to keep up with an increase in COVID-19 infections caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.

The province has registered 866 new cases so far this month, almost a quarter of the total reported since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

A senior health official said the province was wrong in late July when the decision was made to lift all health protection measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

“All of us in this room right now, with the evidence of this rapid rise in Delta virus in the province, we will all agree that it was not the right decision,” said Dr. Gordon Dow, infectious disease specialist. by Horizon. Health Network said in a technical briefing on Friday.

“Many other jurisdictions made the same mistake. Alberta made the mistake, except it did it a month before us. Saskatchewan made the mistake. America made the mistake. The United Kingdom made the mistake. There were a lot of mistakes made.”

In late July, the province became the first Atlantic Canadian jurisdiction to remove all of its COVID-19 restrictions.

At the time, some infectious disease experts warned that New Brunswick would face an increase in cases of delta variants in the fall, mainly due to Prime Minister Blaine Higgs’ decision to remove mask requirements in closed public places.

The order of the masks was reinstated on Wednesday and on Friday Higgs introduced a host of other health protection measures. They include new rules to limit contacts, ensure physical distancing, and require certain companies and events to have vaccination or masking and testing policies.

When asked if it was a mistake to lift all health protection orders in July, Higgs said the decision was based on the best advice available.

“It was the right thing to do in terms of us being able to see the family again and spend the summer with the family again … and get a break,” Higgs said at a news conference after the briefing. “It is convenient to try to get an opportune moment here, but with the facts available at that time … I would have made the same decision that I did.”

Higgs, however, then changed his tone and reflected on other big decisions he’s made over the years.

Masks, physical distancing and vaccine passports on the way in #NewBrunswick after the spike in #COVID cases.

“Throughout my life, there are many times, in hindsight, I would have done things differently,” he said. “And, yes, this could be one of them, in hindsight.”

Health officials also confirmed the deaths of three more people infected by COVID-19 on Friday, all over the age of 70, bringing the province’s total to 52. There were 78 new cases of COVID-19, 59 of which involved to people who were not fully vaccinated.

Of the 573 active cases reported on Friday, 31 were in the hospital, including 15 in an intensive care unit.

Starting at midnight on Friday, the province’s new health protection measures require that people:

– limit your contacts to your home plus 20 consistent contacts

– limit private indoor meetings to 20 consistent contacts

– maintain physical distancing in outdoor meetings

– adhere to new business rules that require employees to be fully vaccinated or continuously masked and periodically screened if they work in places where people gather or exercise.

– show proof of vaccination status if you enter a place where people gather or exercise, including museums, cinemas, theaters, bingo halls, casinos, entertainment centers, stadiums, game rooms, billiard rooms, sports venues live entertainment, weddings, funerals, gyms and yoga studios.

– follow the new rules for religious venues, which have the option of making sure all participants are fully vaccinated or implementing collection limits and requiring the use of masks.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 24, 2021.

– By Michael MacDonald in Halifax

The Canadian Press

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