FREDERICTON (GNB) – More than 500 New Brunswick regional health authority employees are isolating with COVID-19.

The Regional Health Authorities are reporting that 461 Horizon Health Network employees are isolating due to COVID-19 and 69 Vitalité Health Network employees are isolating.

“We are monitoring the health system very closely,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “As Omicron spreads across New Brunswick, case counts will continue to escalate and it will affect our health-care workforce. The Regional Health Authorities, Extra Mural / Ambulance New Brunswick and the Department of Health are on heightened alert and are diligently working, as they have throughout the holidays, to ensure critical life-saving services are there for New Brunswickers when needed.”

Public Health is reporting 17 people in intensive care and another 34 are in hospital for a total of 51 people hospitalized. Of those in hospital, 33 are over the age of 60 and 12 people are on a ventilator. No one under 19 is currently hospitalized. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated. Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status, the age and origin of new cases, and additional information, is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Public Health is reporting 435 recoveries and 2,548 new cases of COVID-19 since the last report on Friday, Dec. 31. This includes 797 new cases on Saturday, Jan. 1, 829 on Sunday, Jan. 2, and 922 today.

Of the new cases since Friday, Dec. 31, 697 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region), 1,070 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region), 299 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), 132 are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), 58 are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), 149 are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 143 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).

Two people in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) have died as a result of COVID-19. One person is age 60-69 and one person is age 70-79.

Public Health reported today that 82.9 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 90.3 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine and 21.2 per cent have received a booster dose.

Public exposures notifications cease

Public Health will no longer be reporting public exposures as it moves away from contact tracing for the general public. Due to the high transmissibility of Omicron, New Brunswickers are asked to take all precautions necessary when going out in public.

“The Omicron variant is so contagious that New Brunswickers should assume that it is everywhere and that they are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 at all times,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

Moderna vaccine available

Due to a limited national supply of Pfizer vaccine until April 2022, New Brunswick’s vaccination clinics will exclusively offer the Moderna vaccine to individuals over the age of 30. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending that the limited supply of Pfizer be reserved for individuals 12-29 years of age as there is evidence that the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis for this age group is decreased with Pfizer vaccine. This risk is less in Moderna in the over 30 population.

“Moderna is a safe and effective vaccine, and as the number of COVID-19 cases rise due to the Omicron variant, it becomes ever more important for people to get their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Russell said. She added that mixed doses of Moderna and Pfizer are now considered to be acceptable for most international travel including to the United States.

Reminder of new measures coming into effect Jan. 4 at 11:59 p.m.

The provincial government is introducing new measures to mitigate impacts on the health-care system and other critical infrastructure in response to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 11:59 p.m., the province will start reserving PCR tests for people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19. This includes symptomatic people over the age of 50 and under the age of 2, those who are immunocompromised or pregnant, and people who are identified as a priority by Public Health as well as people who need a PCT test for  travel.

Point-of-care rapid tests will be reserved for anyone who is symptomatic and under 50 who does not live or work in a vulnerable setting. A positive rapid test will be treated as a positive result for COVID-19 and people will be asked to register their result online next week. They will also need to follow new isolation guidelines.

Fully vaccinated people who have tested positive, as well as fully vaccinated, asymptomatic, close household contacts, will need to isolate for five days. People without two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine who have tested positive, as well as asymptomatic, household contacts without two doses of vaccine, will need to isolate for 10 days.

Close contacts outside of a household will be asked to mask continuously, avoid vulnerable settings and people, and limit their contacts as much as possible for at least 10 days.

Upon release from isolation, people must wear a mask continuously and avoid vulnerable settings and gatherings for the next five days. If a close contact develops symptoms, they will be directed to take a rapid test, unless they meet the requirements for a PCR test.

Due to the high number of cases and lack of resources, contact tracing among the general public is no longer feasible. Instead, people who test positive will be asked to notify their close contacts and members of their household. Case and contact tracing will be reserved mostly for people in vulnerable settings to help prevent transmission among those who are most likely to be hospitalized.

In addition, schools will move to home learning beginning Jan. 11. This measure will remain in place for at least two weeks and will then be re-assessed.

Learn more

All of New Brunswick is in the Level 2 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19. More information on the COVID-19 alert system, including guidance on public health measures, restrictions and the mandatory order, is available online.

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