FREDERICTON (GNB) – The details of New Brunswick’s Winter Action Plan, which outlines measures for living with the COVID-19 virus, were announced today.

“With the colder weather, and especially with the holiday season approaching, New Brunswickers will begin to spend more time indoors with friends and family,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “It is so important that we have a clear plan in place that allows us to live with the COVID-19 virus and protect our health-care system while minimizing the impact on the everyday lives of our residents.”

The plan consists of a three-level alert system, with each level providing guidance and measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Effective Saturday, Dec. 4, at 11:59 p.m., all areas of the province will be in Level 1 of the alert system, which is the least restrictive.

Changes at this level include a requirement for masking outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained and physical distancing in spaces that do not require proof of vaccination, such as retail stores, malls, salons and spas. If these locations require proof of vaccination for all patrons, distancing is not necessary. Salons and spas will not require distancing between the patron and the service provider.

Under Level 1 measures, the current Steady 20 is replaced with a maximum of 20 people for informal indoor household gatherings, and 50 for informal outdoor gatherings. Due to the higher risk associated with being unvaccinated, it is recommended that unvaccinated individuals do not attend household gatherings.

“It is important for us to follow public health measures and keep our number of contacts as low as possible this winter,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “We are still seeing a lot of spread through household gatherings and know that unvaccinated individuals continue to be at high risk for becoming seriously ill, so I really urge you, if you are not going to be vaccinated, to limit your exposures to others. The risk is very high. We know that New Brunswickers are tired of ongoing restrictions, and we want you to be able to have as little disruption as possible over the next few months.”

Levels 2 and 3 each include additional measures and will come into effect as necessary based on several factors, including increased case numbers and hospitalizations.

More information on the plan is available online.

75 recoveries, 97 new cases

Public Health reported today that 75 people have recovered from COVID-19 and there are 97 new cases of the virus, with the active number of cases at 711.

There are 16 people in intensive care and another 33 are in hospital for a total of 49 people hospitalized. Of those in hospital, 29 are over the age of 60. Nine people are on a ventilator. There is one person under 19 currently hospitalized.

Eighteen of the 49 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 those people infected are currently exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

More information about the outbreaks is available on the Horizon Health Network website.

Public Health has confirmed a person 70-79 in Zone 1 (Moncton region) and a person 50-59 in Zone 3 (Fredericton 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.

Vaccination update

Public Health reported today that 81.9 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 87.1 per cent have received their first dose.

Health-care personnel – including those working in long-term care facilities – and residents of First Nations communities can book an appointment to receive an mRNA COVID-19 booster dose if six months have passed since their second dose. They must bring their proof of vaccination, i.e. immunization record, to their appointment.

People 65 and older and school personnel are permitted to book an appointment to receive a booster dose if six months have passed since their second dose.

A detailed list of those eligible for a booster dose is available online.

Booster eligibility will be expanded next week to people in their 50s. In the coming weeks, eligibility will be expanded to those in their 40s, followed by all other New Brunswickers.

Vaccination appointments for children aged five to 11 are available at clinics and pharmacies across the province.

Appointments for first and second doses, as well as a booster dose for those eligible, can be scheduled for a regional health authority community COVID-19 vaccination clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy. Residents of First Nations communities can also book an appointment at a community clinic.

A list of upcoming walk-in clinics is available online.

Regional breakdown of new cases

The 13 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

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

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

The 27 new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under;
  • six people 20-29;
  • four people 40-49;
  • two people 50-59;
  • five people 60-69;
  • five people 70-79; and
  • a person 80-89.

Fourteen cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and 13 are under investigation.

The 34 new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

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

Twenty-one cases are under investigation, 12 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, and one case is travel-related.

The one new case in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) is a person 40-49 who is a contact of a previously known case.

The two new cases in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) are two people 19 and under. One case is under investigation and the other is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

The 20 new cases in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) are as follows:

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

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

Additional information is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Confirmed cases in schools and child-care facilities

Information on cases in schools, early learning centres and child care facilities is available on the Healthy and Safe Schools website and the COVID-19 dashboard.

Isolation reminder

Any household in New Brunswick with a positive case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Household members who are fully vaccinated will be able to leave isolation with a day-five negative PCR test. A day-10 PCR test must still be taken to confirm the negative result.

Those who violate the Public Health order to self-isolate face a fine of between $480 and $20,400.

Potential public exposures

Anyone with two or more symptoms of the virus is urged to request a test online to get an appointment.

If you have been at the site of a possible public exposure, but remain asymptomatic, you may be able to pick up a rapid-screening kit (while supplies last).

A map of potential public exposures can also be found on the COVID-19 dashboard.