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N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 6 new presumptive cases brings province's total to 17 –



Six new presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in New Brunswick, and two previous presumptive cases have now been confirmed, bringing the province’s total number of cases to 17, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced on Saturday.

There are now nine confirmed cases and eight presumptive cases.

Four of the latest ones involve people from the southern part of the province who had been on a cruise, Russell told reporters during the daily update in Fredericton.

She said she didn’t have information about whether the individuals had been on the same cruise.

The new cases include:

  • A male in his 40s in the south who had been on a cruise.
  • A woman in her 50s in central New Brunswick who is a direct contact of  a previously identified presumptive case.
  • A woman in her 40s in the south who had been on a cruise.
  • A man in his 60s in the south who had been on a cruise.
  • A woman in her 50s in the south who had been on a cruise.
  • A woman in her 20s in the south who is a contact to a travel-related presumptive case.

The newly confirmed cases include:

  • A boy under the age of 10 from central New Brunswick announced as presumptive on March 17 and linked to a previous travel-related case.
  • A woman in her 60s from the southeast announced as presumptive on March 18 who had been on a cruise.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell and Blaine Higgs gave an update on New Brunswick COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, on Saturday. 1:42

New Brunswick declared a state of emergency Thursday, giving the government broad powers to enforce business closures and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We need to behave as though we all have COVID-19,” advised Russell.

“Although there may not be cases in your area yet, you need to act like there are,” she said. “There are people traveling from all over the world to different parts of New Brunswick.”

As long as returning travellers self-isolate for the required 14 days, call 811 if they develop symptoms and continue to self-isolate while they await test results, Russell said she “anticipates” being able to contain the travel-related cases.

“That is our goal right now.”

People calling 911 to report on returning travellers

Premier Blaine Higgs said he has heard of residents calling 911 to report returning travellers who are not self-isolating for the mandatory 14 days.

The government will have a phone line and email set up by Sunday for people to call “for advice on their concerns of how to help family members and neighbours comply with the state of emergency orders,” he said.

The phone number and email will be available on the government website and will be shared through social media.

Testing has identified six new presumptive cases and confirmed two previous presumptive cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 17: nine confirmed and eight presumptive. A total of 771 tests have come back negative. (CBC)

“For now, the best thing you can do is to direct returning travellers and all residents to follow the guidelines laid out in the state of emergency order.”

People returning from travel outside Canada should not be picked up at the airport by family or friends, or go grocery shopping, the premier has said. They should begin their 14-day self-isolation immediately and have a vehicle dropped off and supplies delivered.

Anyone who gives returning travellers a drive home from the airport, or comes into contact with a traveller, must also self-isolate, Higgs said on Saturday.

Here is a roundup of other developments.

Relief from excessive prescription refill co-payments

Patients with drug coverage under the province’s public drug plans will only be responsible for the initial co-payment on a prescription fill or refill during the state of emergency, effective immediately, said Russell.

For example, a patient with a 90-day prescription will only have a co-payment for the first 30-day fill. There will be no co-payment required for the second and third 30-day fills on the same 90-day prescription, she said.

“This applies to all New Brunswickers that are on the public drug plan, including many seniors and low-income individuals.”

On Tuesday, the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists had directed all refills to be capped at a 30-day amount to protect drug supplies in response to last weekend’s rush of requests for medication, including requests for early refills.

But patients complained that tripled their costs in dispensing fees.

New self-assessment tool popular

Nearly 5,500 people have already used the new online self-assessment tool launched Friday by the government, according to Russell.

This has helped reduce the number of calls to Tele-Care 811, which has allowed the health-care professionals to assist callers “more promptly,” she said.

The information line has been getting about 1,000 calls a day, up from about 200, Russell has said.

‘Very likely’ measures will extend into May

On Friday night, Higgs told CBC’s News Network that government measures to curb the outbreak will “very likely” remain in place until the end of May.

Although difficult to predict, health officials believe the peak of viral infections could still be up to five weeks away, he said.

“We’re planning for months,” he said.

The New Brunswick government hopes measures introduced early in the outbreak will help slow the spread of the virus. (Government of New Brunswick)

The total of negative tests jumped to 771 Saturday, up from 509 on Friday.

As of Friday mid-afternoon, no new cases had been diagnosed in two days.

But Russell told reporters she expected the number of cases to increase in the coming weeks, as people return home from travelling abroad.

She also expects the number of screening tests to soon increase, with 13 new community assessment centres set up across the province to help ease the burden in emergency departments, she said.

Wondering what the NB COVID-19 testing centres are like? Horizon Health has created a virtual tour. 0:53

Higgs said Friday public reaction to the state of emergency declaration has been “very strong — and positively.”

People are asking more questions about what they need to do, he said.

“This information has been available, but people are looking a whole lot more now and getting informed. And we need that. And we need them to pay attention.

“And I’m happy to say I think that they’re doing a whole lot more of that because I need everyone’s help here.”

Retired doctors offer to help

About eight retired physicians — family doctors and specialists — have contacted the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick about practising again, if their services are required, according to the registrar.

“At this point no hospital has requested any. My bet is that will change as this goes on,” Dr. Ed Schollenberg said in an email Friday.

Once the retired doctors have “specific plans,” the college can license them to practise, he said.

P.E.I. expedites physician licensing

Earlier this week, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Prince Edward Island announced it’s expediting the licensing of qualified physicians coming from other provinces and territories to help during the island’s outbreak, and for those coming out of retirement.

“At this time of crisis, inter-provincial barriers to physician licensure must not be allowed to stifle the flow of physicians from areas of lesser need to areas of greater need within Canada,” president Dr. Matt Kutcher said in a statement.

The college will review applications made under the emergency policy on a daily basis with a goal of same-day licensure, he said, adding “standard requirements may be modified.”

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions.”

Schollenberg said the New Brunswick college’s licensing process is “always expedited.”

Lining up reinforcements

Horizon Health has also asked other retirees and students in medical training to help with the COVID-19 outbreak, if needed.

Those interested are asked to fill out an online questionnaire.

The health network said they are working to make sure they have proper staffing resources in place, including deploying internal and external resources.

Grocery chain gives staff raise

In a release Saturday, the union representing the employees of Loblaw Companies Limited said they will receive a $2 per hour raise, retroactive to March 8. 

“It’s an important recognition for the essential work of our grocery and pharmacy workers during this crisis,” said UFCW Local 175 president Shawn Haggerty.

Loblaw Companies Limited is also adding Plexiglas shields to checkout counters at their Atlantic Superstore locations. The company has acquired the shields and has begun installing them in stores, according to a statement from executive chairman Galen Weston.

Mount A postpones convocation and reunion

On Saturday, Mount Allison University posted on its website that the in-person convocation ceremony and alumni reunion weekend celebrations scheduled for May 8 to 11 are postponed. 

The university said a committee will work on a plan to celebrate the graduating class.

“We are working to ensure degrees are conferred so that graduates can continue to make plans for their futures,” said Carolle de Ste-Croix, the university’s director of alumni engagement.

“At this time the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority.”

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26 new cases of coronavirus identified in Nova Scotia, more options for testing announced –



As of Sunday, 26 new cases of novel coronavirus were identified in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 262.

According to the province, the patients having confirmed cases so far range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Six individuals are currently in hospital while 53 individuals have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 29 new cases confirmed in Nova Scotia

The new cases were identified on Saturday at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab after 592 Nova Scotia tests were completed.

The province also noted that most of the confirmed cases have been connected to travel or a known case, but some are the result of community spread.

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“This is expected and why the testing strategy continues to be adjusted,” said the province.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic taking toll on Canadians’ mental health: survey

Part of that adjustment is increasing lab capacity, which according to the government, will have processing at the lab move to 24/7 operations as of Monday.

“This disease is in our communities and that’s why we are adjusting our testing strategy,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, at a press briefing on Sunday.

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As QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab begins its 24/operation, Strang said they’d be able to carry up to 1,000 tests a day.

Canada may be missing thousands of coronavirus cases, experts say

He also announced that as of Sunday more options for testing of COVID-19 will be available to help identify spread within Nova Scotia communities.

Coronavirus outbreak: Young people warn others their age to take COVID-19 seriously

Coronavirus outbreak: Young people warn others their age to take COVID-19 seriously

The province is working with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Emergency Health Services (EHS) to establish temporary primary assessment centres, EHS assessment units, and a mobile assessment centre.

“The temporary assessment centres will be in communities where there are increased disease activities,” said Strang.

He also said that the first temporary assessment centre opened Sunday, in Elmsdale where there’s currently increased disease activity.

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But like the other assessment centres, people must be referred by 811 first. Those directed to an assessment centre will have a physical assessment onsite and swabbed if appropriate.

READ MORE: IWK staff self-isolating, Aberdeen Hospital halts surgeries after COVID-19 exposures

“Expanding our testing options means we have the ability to act quickly if we’re seeing clusters of disease in communities or locations and ensures we’re able to accommodate vulnerable Nova Scotians and those living in harder-to-reach communities,” said Strang.

There are currently two mobile units, one in the Halifax Regional Municipality and one for the most populated areas of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, staffed by paramedics trained to do at-home testing.

According to Strang, the mobile units would be used for people who have mobility issues and cannot get to an assessment centre or in situations where a cluster of testing needs to be done, for example at a long-term care home.

“This virus is in our communities, it’s dangerous and it’s up to all of us to slow it down,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “Expanding testing will help us identify and respond more quickly to spread in communities but the best defence continues to be following the public health orders.

“People need to stay home.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent

spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Nova Scotia identifies 26 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total to 262 –



Twenty-six new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Nova Scotia, bringing the province’s total to 262. 

Of the confirmed cases, 24 are in the eastern region, 25 are in the northern region, 38 are in the western region and 175 are in the central region. 

People with COVID-19 in Nova Scotia range in age from under 10 to over 90. Six people are currently in hospital, while 53 people have recovered and their cases are considered resolved. 

On Sunday, Shannex said it was notified by public health officials that employees at Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax and Harris Hall in Dartmouth have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“(Management teams)  are receiving support from our COVID-19 Response Team, which includes our Infection Prevention and Control Specialist and Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness team members, to ensure all residents and team members are following proper precautions with the health and safety of our residents and team members as our highest priority,” Shannex said in a statement posted to its website

Most cases in Nova Scotia have been connected to travel or a known case, but “it is now known there is community spread,” the Health Department said in a news release Sunday. 

“This is expected and why the testing strategy continues to be adjusted. Part of that is increasing lab capacity.” 

The QEII Health Science Centre’s microbiology lab in Halifax will move to 24/7 operations on Monday. 

To date, Nova Scotia has 9,510 negative results.

The province’s state of emergency declared two weeks ago has been recently extended to April 19. 

“It is now more important than ever for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health orders and directives – practise good hygiene, maintain a physical distance of two metres or six feet from others, limit essential gatherings to no more than five people and stay at home as much as possible,” the release said. 

A news conference with Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, and Premier Stephen McNeil will be held at 3 p.m. today. 

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COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia rise to 262, including 2 health-care workers –



Nova Scotia has announced 26 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 262.

Cases have been identified in individuals under 10 and over 90, including two staff at Nova Scotia hospitals and two long-term care employees.

Six people are now in hospital with the virus and 53 have recovered. 

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, are scheduled to provide an update on the coronavirus outbreak at 3 p.m. Sunday. Video will be livestreamed in this story.

Two new cases among long-term care employees

Two of the new cases include staff at two long-term care facilities.

The individuals are employees at Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax and Harris Hall in Dartmouth, which are both owned by Shannex.

An additional case was confirmed at Shannex’s Jubilee Hall-Concorde Hall in Quispamsis, N.B.

Last week, Shannex announced one case among employees at its private retirement-living community in Dartmouth. An employee at the R.K MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish also tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

It was also confirmed last week that three staff and two residents at the Magnolia resident care home in Enfield have also tested positive. 

Health-care workers exposed

Two cases of COVID-19 have been identified among staff at Nova Scotia hospitals — the IWK Health Centre in Halifax and Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow — and some health-care workers have been ordered to self-isolate because of close contact with their infected colleagues.

A spokesperson for the IWK said the infected staff member is a health-care worker, and hospital staff were investigating any possible exposure to patients.

The case at the IWK is not expected to impact patient care or service delivery.

A park in Dartmouth is taped off on Sunday. The sign delivers the premier’s message. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has not released the role of the staff member from Aberdeen Hospital who tested positive for the virus, but some patients could have been exposed. The NSHA is working to identify and contact any affected patients.

Neither health authority would say how many staff were under self-isolation orders. They said affected staff were being tested.

Service disruptions at Aberdeen Hospital

The NSHA said the case at Aberdeen Hospital has caused a stoppage of all surgical, and labour and delivery services.

Patients with urgent and emergency orthopedic needs are being sent to the Halifax Infirmary, and emergency general surgery cases are being diverted to Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro.

Labour and delivery care will be transferred from Aberdeen to Colchester East Hants or St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, depending on the patient’s location.

The health authorities confirmed the cases Sunday, two weeks after the premier declared a state of emergency, ordering citizens to stay home as much as possible and to keep a distance of two metres from other people.

Under the public health measures, police have the authority to ticket anyone who fails to abide by physical distancing orders or who continues to use parks, trails and beaches, most of which are now closed.

In his near-daily COVID-19 updates, McNeil has been doling out stern warnings for the public to abide by the restrictions, calling those who flout the orders “reckless.”

Dozens of tickets issued for flouting public health orders

Last week, McNeil ordered police to increase enforcement. Ahead of the weekend, he appealed for people to “stay the blazes home.”

The plea struck a chord with many, who turned the phrase into memes, songs and merchandise, but it apparently didn’t affect everyone. On Saturday, Halifax police told CBC News they’d handed out dozens of tickets for violations under the Emergency Management Act and the Health Protection Act.

Fines for those violations range from almost $700 for individuals to up to $10,000 for businesses.


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