New Brunswick reports 10 new cases of COVID-19, outbreak continues at UNB campus

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New Brunswick reports 10 new cases of COVID-19, outbreak continues at UNB campus

New Brunswick reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 118. There are two new case

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New Brunswick reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 118.

There are two new cases in Zone 1, two new cases in Zone 2, two new cases in Zone 3, three new cases in Zone 4, and one new case in Zone 6. All cases are close contacts of other cases or related to travel, except one of the cases in Zone 1, which is under investigation.

The province is currently dealing with an outbreak at the Magee House residence at UNB’s Fredericton Campus, which is connected to at least 10 cases. During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the outbreak is the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India.

“This outbreak really does illustrate what we’re up against,” she said.

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“We’re dealing with different variants around the province right now. We have the UK variant in Zone 4, we have the South African variant in Zone 4, and we’re dealing with the India variant in Zone 3.”

As well, residents and staff of Elizabeth Parr-Johnston residence were tested due to a possible exposure, and all those tests came back negative.

Residents of both UNB buildings remain in self-isolation. UNB announced Wednesday it is extending its shutdown, which was announced earlier this week, until Sunday.

Russell said the UNB outbreak appears to be connected to cases found at George Street Middle School, which impacts 900 students, staff and their families.

Click to play video: 'New cases in Fredericton are linked, according to Dr. Jennifer Russell' New cases in Fredericton are linked, according to Dr. Jennifer Russell

New cases in Fredericton are linked, according to Dr. Jennifer Russell

Public Health has conducted rapid tests on 75 close contacts in that school community, and while they all tested negative, they have been directed to self-isolate for 14 days from their contact point.

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Contacts in that school are to be retested this weekend, with the hopes that the school will reopen on Monday if they are negative.

The province is also keeping tabs on two recent exposures. A small group of people from Fredericton High School may have been exposed to the virus “from a source outside of the school.” Public Health has contacted the people and they are self-isolating and being tested.

The school remains open but staff and students are being reminded to self-monitor for symptoms.

As well, there is a possible public exposure at the Canada Post at 135 Otis Dr. in Nackawic from April 19-22.

As a result, a temporary outdoor drive-through testing clinic has been set up at the parking lot of the Nackawic Shopping Mall.  Testing will be by appointment and will be open from noon until 5 p.m. until Friday.

Russell said the province is stepping up testing in that region and conducted 637 tests in Zone 3 yesterday.

Province runs out of AstraZeneca vaccines

Russell also said the province has now exhausted its supply of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and isn’t expecting any new shipments until late May.

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While the province currently uses AstraZeneca on people 55 or older, Russell noted that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently updated its guidelines to include people 30 or older.

Russell said they will review the province’s guidelines while they wait for the extra doses to arrive.

Currently, 35 per cent of all New Brunswickers have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

‘Everything to aim for’

During the news conference, Education Minister Dominic Cardy said he understands people may be feeling anxious about the school-related cases, but said Public Health is working hard to conduct contact tracing and testing for everyone affected.

He said any students who have not been contacted by Public Health should continue attending school.

Cardy reminded families and students to continuing following Public Health guidelines as the summer break approaches, saying “there’s everything to aim for here.”

“As we get towards the end of the year, I think especially of our graduating class. And certainly, my hope is that following protocols described by public health … that we’ll be able to have limited grad ceremonies, limited proms, events that fit in with the mandate from public health,” he said.

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“But we can only have that if all of us do our part.”

A section of Zone 4, including Edmundston and the Upper Madawaska region, Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls remain in the orange level.

All other communities remain in the yellow level.

No travel is recommended in or out of areas in the orange levels but travel between areas in orange is permitted. Travel among yellow-level areas is also permitted.

– With files from Rebecca Lau

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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