New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced a “terrible milestone” on Thursday as the province reported two more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 101.
A person in their 80s in the Moncton region and a person in their 70s in the Campbellton region have died.
“These are not statistics. These are people with family and friends,” said a subdued Higgs during a news conference.
“With every death we have announced, there are loved ones left behind who are grieving their loss.”
Higgs said circuit breaker measures that started on Oct. 8 will be extended for another seven days.
The measures impact Zone 1 (Moncton region) as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent and Havelock in Zone 2, Zone 3 (Fredericton region) in the upper Saint John River valley north of and including Florenceville-Bristol, and all of Zone 4 (Edmundston region).
The circuit breaker will also be extended to include all of Zone 5, the Campbellton region, beginning Friday at 6 p.m., and will last for at least 14 days.
New Brunswick premier says COVID-19 ‘circuit breaker’ extended
Non-essential travel in and out of these areas is not allowed and residents must limit their contact to within their household bubble.
“I know this news is difficult for those living in circuit breaker areas. You have worked hard. We recognize and we thank you for doing so,” said Higgs.
“You are making a difference. The numbers are slowly getting better. But we still have those areas of significant risk.”
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The province also announced 67 new cases on Thursday and 63 recoveries, for a total of 763 active cases across the province.
Of the new cases, 38 are unvaccinated, four are partially vaccinated, and 25 are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, noted that the province is beginning to see a decrease in new cases and the circuit breaker measures have worked to help stabilize the number of hospitalizations.
“But we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said, adding that the “fastest and surest” way out of the fourth wave is increasing vaccination rates and having people follow public health guidelines, especially by limiting close contacts.
To date, 83 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and almost 92 per cent are partially vaccinated.
“That is a significant achievement, but we are needing to do more,” said Russell.
There are currently 55 New Brunswickers hospitalized with the virus, including one person aged 19 and under. Of those in hospital, 27 are unvaccinated, five are partially vaccinated and 23 are fully vaccinated.
Of the 16 people in ICU, 14 are unvaccinated and two are partially vaccinated.
Russell said most of the 23 fully-vaccinated patients did not have COVID-19 when admitted and contracted the virus while hospitalized for other reasons during ongoing outbreaks at the Moncton Hospital and the Campbellton Regional Hospital.
“These fully vaccinated patients are generally experiencing mild symptoms, but they still must be treated as COVID-19 patients requiring additional care and protective measures,” she said.
“This is adding to the strain on our already-stressed health-care system.”
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Russell said infections are also happening among vaccinated people in the broader population, and noted that breakthrough cases are not unique to New Brunswick.
As vaccination rates continue to rise, Russell said they expect that between one quarter and one half of new infections will be in vaccinated people, but having the shot will help reduce severe outcomes, hospitalizations and deaths.
Premier Higgs also took some time to address hurtful comments he and his team has received.
He acknowledged the government made some mistakes during the pandemic, but said they always acted on the best information available at the time.
“No matter how hard anyone works, and no matter how hard we are fighting to fight off the latest wave, we all can become demoralized. We are all COVID-tired,” said Higgs.
“But the individual comments do matter. They hurt, they hurt my team, they hurt myself, they hurt my family, they hurt our ability to get up and carry on as we must to fight this fourth wave.
“While I accept this comes with the job as premier, I am very concerned that those comments will continue to demoralize the very team that we are counting on to get us through this.”
He said while times are hard now, it’s also an “opportunity to rise and show how resilient we truly are as a province.”
Higgs said while they want to get everyone vaccinated, that “is likely impossible to achieve,” but he said there’s a “real possibility” of getting at least 90 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
“So let’s focus on the ones that want to be part of the success story. Let’s focus on those that will help us to reach this milestone of 90-plus per cent. Let’s focus on us getting to live a life with COVID that is liveable here in New Brunswick,” he said.
“I too want to get back to normal. Normal will be defined differently, but we will be able to have a life after COVID.”
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