Update on COVID-19, March 24, 2020

FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following update on COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) was issued today:

Testing has identified one additional case of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in New Brunswick to 18. The laboratory at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton is now able to give final confirmation of any tests completed in New Brunswick, without the necessity of sending them to the national laboratory in Winnipeg.

The new case is a female, between the ages of 20 and 30, in zone 1 (southeast) who had recently travelled.

Two of the 18 cases have required hospitalization. These include a case in zone 2 (southern New Brunswick) who was hospitalized briefly and has been discharged and a case in zone 3 (central New Brunswick) whose condition is being evaluated.

New Brunswick has not yet seen cases of community transmission, in which a case emerges with no clear link to a known source of infection. However, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the province must be ready for this.

“We are working to increase the pace of COVID-19 testing, to effectively identify those who may have the disease, those who have been in contact with suspected cases, and those who are most vulnerable to its effects,” said Russell.

Premier Blaine Higgs and his fellow premiers spoke last night with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One of the topics of discussion was interprovincial borders.

“We need a national plan that addresses travel between provinces,” said Higgs. “We are seeing new measures being put in place each day, and these measures can vary widely between provinces and territories. Enacting a national state of emergency is the best tool to ensure consistency across our country in the level of health care, safeguarding our supply chain, and mitigating the economic impact.”

The provincial government will provide a one-time income benefit to either workers or self-employed people in New Brunswick who have lost their job due to the state of emergency. This one-time $900 benefit will be administered through the Red Cross and will help to bridge the time between when people lose their employment or close their business and to when they receive their federal benefit. Furthers details on how to apply will follow in coming days.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available online.

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