FREDERICTON (GNB) – Public Health has confirmed that five people have died as a result of COVID-19. This brings the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the province to 106.

Four people in Zone 1 (Moncton region) – including two people 60-69, a person 70-79 and a person 80-89 – and a person 70-79 in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) have died.

“Sadly, five more people have lost their lives to this virus,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “While we are seeing some stabilization in our numbers, we must continue and expand the circuit breaker measures currently in place due to low vaccination numbers and the high infection rate in those areas.”

“Every loss to the COVID-19 virus is heartbreaking,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “These lives lost are a reminder of why we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones, including getting vaccinated and following public health measures and all restrictions in place.”

Public Health reported 40 new cases of COVID-19 today and 67 recoveries. There are 731 active cases.

Of the new cases, 29 – or 73 per cent – are unvaccinated, two – or five per cent – are partially vaccinated, and nine – or 22 per cent – are fully vaccinated.

Majority of cases in ICU remain unvaccinated

Of the 50 people hospitalized due to the virus, 25 are unvaccinated, three are partially vaccinated and 22 are fully vaccinated. There is currently no one 19 and under in the hospital. There are 15 people in an intensive care unit, 14 of whom are unvaccinated and one who is partially vaccinated.

Circuit breaker reminder

The circuit breaker that has been in effect in certain areas of the province since Friday, Oct. 8, has been extended for at least seven more days until Public Health determines the situation is more stable.

These areas are Zone 1 (Moncton region) as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent and including Havelock in Zone 2; the northern portion of Zone 3 from and including Deerville and Florenceville-Bristol, but excluding Hayesville and Parker Ridge; and all of Zone 4 (Edmundston region).

As well, Zone 5 (Campbellton region) will enter a 14-day circuit breaker today at 6 p.m. to address the high number of COVID-19 transmissions in that region.

More information about the circuit breaker rules, including a detailed list and map of affected communities, is available online. A new mandatory order comes into effect today at 6 p.m.

Halloween guidance

Public Health is recommending that residents who wish to trick-or-treat this Halloween in non-circuit breaker areas only travel with their single household plus up to 20 consistent contacts.

People handing out treats in non-circuit breaker areas should sanitize their hands between visitors, keep high-touch areas such as door handles and railings clean, and provide treats through touchless means. Do not permit children to take candy from a bowl of treats unless the treats are arranged so that children will not touch other treats when they take their own. Individual treat bags are a good option. Trick-or-treaters should wash their hands before heading out and upon returning home.

In circuit breaker areas, travelling for trick-or-treating is limited to a single household and appropriate distancing, masking and existing restrictions on indoor gatherings must be followed.

People handing out treats in a circuit breaker area must provide treats through touchless means. Everyone must wear community masks when they are unable to maintain a distance of at least two metres.

“We want children across the province to be able to enjoy Halloween, but it is imperative that everyone does so in as safe a manner as possible,” said Russell.

More information is available online.

Update on school sports and extracurricular activities

Effective today, teams and extracurricular groups will be permitted to travel within New Brunswick, including travel in and out of circuit breaker communities. Students under the age of 12 in circuit breaker communities will also be able to resume school sports and extracurricular activities, following the Healthy and Safe School guidelines. All these activities continue to be subject to guidance provided in the mandatory order.

Spectators are permitted to attend school-related events that are held outside of school facilities if they show proof of two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and follow masking and physical distancing requirements.

Beginning Friday, Oct. 29, spectators will be permitted to attend sports and extracurricular activities within school buildings, provided they follow masking, physical distancing and any other operational requirements set out by schools or districts.  

All events will require the co-operation and support of families and community volunteers. Should not enough members of the community volunteer to help manage events, individual schools and school districts may choose to not allow spectators.

Rapid-test kits available for pickup at locations throughout province

Free rapid COVID-19 screening tests that people can administer at home are now available for those who are asymptomatic and have not tested positive for COVID-19. If you have symptoms, book an appointment for a test at an assessment centre.

On Thursday, 9,471 rapid-test kits were distributed across the province.

The tests are designed for people two and older. Most kits have five tests to be used over a 10-day period. People 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult to acquire a kit.

All the locations will be open during their scheduled hours or until the daily supply has been given out. New supplies of test kits will continue to be delivered to the pickup locations throughout the week.

Anyone who has been directed by Public Health to isolate is not permitted to leave isolation if they receive a negative result from a rapid-test kit.

A full list of locations is available online for both Vitalité and Horizon health networks. More information on the rapid-test kits program is available online.

Vaccination update

Public Health reported today that 83.3 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 92 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.

If you have not yet had your first or second dose, you are asked to go to a walk-in clinic or book an appointment through a participating pharmacy or at a Vitalité or Horizon health network clinic as soon as possible.

All eligible New Brunswickers can book their second-dose appointments for a date that is at least 28 days after their first dose.

Those attending a vaccination clinic are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving their second dose, a copy of the record of immunization provided after receiving their first dose.

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

Update on vaccination status of provincial government employees

On Oct. 5 it was announced that all provincial government employees must be fully vaccinated prior to Nov. 19 or be put on leave without pay. While the number of employees who are vaccinated has risen by six per cent since that announcement, about 7,000 of the government’s 59,500 employees have not shown proof of receiving their first dose.  

“We simply cannot afford to have unvaccinated people working in New Brunswick’s public service,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “The potential risk to co-workers, patients, students and members of the public is too high.”

Health-care personnel and First Nations can start booking booster dose appointments today

Effective today, health-care personnel – including those working in long-term care facilities – and residents of First Nations communities may book an appointment to receive an mRNA COVID-19 booster dose if six months have passed since their second dose of a vaccine.

Appointments 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. Health-care workers and residents of First Nations communities must bring their proof of vaccination, i.e. immunization record, to their appointment.

Details on booster doses for other groups will be available in the coming weeks.

Confirmed cases in schools and child-care facilities

Information on cases in schools is now available on the Healthy and Safe Schools website and the COVID-19 dashboard.

A new case has been confirmed at Garderie Power Play in Dieppe in Zone 1 (Moncton region). Affected families have been notified. If you or a family member have been in close contact with a case, you will be notified by Public Health or the facility for contact tracing. If you are not notified directly, you have not been identified as a close contact.

Since Sept. 7, 57 early learning and child-care facilities have had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Standardized proof of vaccination

The provincial government is working with the federal government and other provincial and territorial governments to develop a standardized proof of vaccination that will facilitate travel across Canada and internationally.  

“New Brunswick has met all of its milestones in this development work with other provinces and territories, and we are on track to deliver a QR code proof of vaccination credential in mid-November,” said Higgs.

The proof of vaccination will be accessible on any electronic device and will be printable.

Regional breakdown of new cases

The 25 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • 10 people 19 and under;
  • two people 20-29;
  • four people 30-39;
  • four people 50-59;
  • three people 60-69;
  • a person 70-79; and
  • a person 80-89.

Twenty-four cases are under investigation and one is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

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

  • a person 20-29;
  • a person 40-49; and
  • a person 60-69.

All three cases are under investigation.

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

  • three people 19 and under;
  • a person 20-29; and
  • a person 30-39.

All five cases are under investigation.

The five new cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) are as follows:

  • a person 19 and under;
  • a person 30-39;
  • a person 50-59; and
  • two people 60-69.

All five cases are under investigation.

The two new cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) are both 19 and under. One case is under investigation and the other is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

Additional information is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Potential public exposures

Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is urged to request a test online to get an appointment.

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