New Brunswick announced 682 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and said it is changing the way it deals with and responds to COVID-19 as cases continue to rise.
During a briefing, Prime Minister Blaine Higgs also announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a rapid test.
He attended the briefing via Zoom and said he and his family are isolating themselves.
Higgs will also undergo a PCR test to confirm his diagnosis.
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In the meantime, he said he was fine and was only experiencing symptoms of a cold.
The Prime Minister is doubly vaccinated and has also received his booster dose.
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Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, who attended the briefing in person, said that while hospitalizations remain low this is expected to change in the days or week to come.
As a result, health authorities will be heading to emergency departments and surgeries only to ensure that the health system has sufficient capacity to respond to COVID-19.
âUnfortunately, Omicron is exacerbating staffing shortages in the healthcare system,â Shephard said.
The best doctor in the province, Dr Jennifer Russell, said that as COVID-19 continues to evolve, public health will also evolve in the way it handles the situation.
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âOur goal was to contain the virus. With Omicron, this is no longer possible, âsaid Russell.
As of Tuesday, Jan.4, 2022 at 11:59 p.m., she said public health will change the criteria for PCR testing. PCR tests will be reserved for:
- People living in areas most at risk, including healthcare workers and those who live or work in long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and correctional facilities.
- Symptomatic people aged 50 and over.
- Symptomatic and immunocompromised or pregnant people.
- People who need a PCR test to travel.
- People identified as priority by Public Health.
Everyone, including those who are symptomatic but under the age of 50 and who do not live in a vulnerable environment, will be asked to take rapid point-of-care tests when they are symptomatic, the province said.
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A positive rapid test will be treated as a positive result for COVID-19 and people will be asked to record their result via a new form that will be available online next week. They will also need to follow the new isolation guidelines.
Russell said vaccinated people who test positive will face a lower isolation period of five days while unvaccinated people will face a period of 10.
On leaving solitary confinement, people must wear a mask at all times and avoid vulnerable environments.
âTransmission of the virus can occur even after the isolation period has ended,â Russell said.
Russell said there were plenty of vaccines, especially Moderna, for booster doses and encouraged people to make an appointment.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy has announced that due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, students will not return to public schools on January 10, but will switch to home learning starting on January 11. January. This measure will remain in place for at least two weeks and will then be evaluated weekly.
âI know this situation is not ideal,â Cardy said in a statement. âFace-to-face learning is more effective for many students. I know that students rely on mental health and food safety services and programs offered by schools.
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According to the province, the current interim measures for school sports and extracurricular activities will remain in place during this period. These measures do not include organized sport or other organized activities for children under 12 years old. For ages 12 and over, skill exercises and practices are permitted with only one team at a time.
Cardy also announced new public health guidelines for early childhood education institutions. Although a child or staff member is still not allowed to attend if a symptom new or worsens, they will now be able to return once they have a negative rapid test.
“Children or staff with a constant and recurring symptom, such as seasonal allergies, may continue to attend without testing,” the province added.
New cases and one death
Public health reported 190 recoveries and 682 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
There are 21 people in intensive care and 24 others are hospitalized for a total of 45 people hospitalized. Among those hospitalized, 29 are over 60 years old and 11 people are on a ventilator.
Of the new cases on Friday, 228 are in Zone 1 (Moncton area), 265 are in Zone 2 (Saint John area), 43 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton area), 100 are in Zone 4 ( Edmundston region), three are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), 26 are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 17 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).
A person aged 50 to 59 in Zone 2 (Saint John area) has died from COVID-19.
Public health reported on Friday that 82.9% of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 90.2% have received their first dose of a vaccine and 20.3% have received a booster dose.
To preserve the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for future booster clinics for people ages 12 to 29, the province said “current eligible groups will be offered Moderna at booster clinics regardless of vaccine administered for previous doses “.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in a correctional facility
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) reported on Friday that three inmates and seven staff at Atlantic Institution have tested positive for COVID-19.
The correctional facility said in a statement that COVID-19 testing was offered to inmates and staff. Employees are also required to take a rapid test and provide a negative result before entering the site to prevent possible spread within the facility.
âThis is an evolving situation and we will continue to apply and strengthen infection prevention and control measures to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19,â CSC said.
âAll staff and inmates are equipped with masks, and we have increased cleaning and disinfection throughout the site. “
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