COVID-19: New Brunswick imposes 16-day lockdown, top doctor says it’s a ‘matter of life or death’

All New Brunswick health zones will move to level 3 of the COVID-19 alert system as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Prime Minister Blaine Higgs said during Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing that the lockdown will last 16 days, running until January 30.

According to the provincial website, Tier 3 restrictions include the following:

  • Single-family bubble
  • No public gatherings indoors
  • Closure of gyms, spas and entertainment centers
  • Restaurants can only operate take-out and delivery
  • Retail: encouraging the use of contactless curbside pickup and/or designating someone in the household to do the shopping if possible to reduce contact
  • Religious venues can only hold outdoor, virtual or drive-in services
  • Organized sports not allowed
  • Organized sports and all other organized activities are not allowed with people outside of a single family bubble
  • Outdoor exercise or activities such as skiing, skating or snowmobiling are permitted, as long as public health measures are followed and you are in your unique household bubble
  • Pavilions and other facilities that support outdoor sports must not exceed 50% of their capacity and must not allow the consumption of food or drink inside.

The province also says home learning will be extended for a week. Students must return to class on January 31.

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“Think of it as short-term pain for long-term gain,” Higgs said.

“Going to level 3 was never something I wanted to do and I really hate taking the step.”

Read more:

New Brunswick doctors are preparing for the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic

Higgs said there are currently 104 New Brunswickers hospitalized with COVID-19, including 9 in intensive care, and 386 medical staff are in isolation after testing positive.

Moving to Tier 3, he said, is necessary at this point.

“We need our children back to school and to sports. We need our businesses to be open and business owners to be able to earn a living,” he said.

Higgs also said the province is ready to do what it takes to get New Brunswickers vaccinated.

“Life will become increasingly uncomfortable and difficult for those who can get vaccinated but choose not to.”

The province is asking people who have experience administering vaccines, such as retired nurses, dentists and medical personnel from other countries who now live in New Brunswick, to come forward.

“It’s going to be a tough two weeks, but we have to do it,” Higgs said, adding that after reviewing a lot of public health data, there was no other choice.

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“Level 3 measures are a final result and a step we must take to protect our essential services and our hospitals.”

The critical issue, Higgs said, is reducing the number of hospitalizations.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Jennifer Russell said in the briefing that projections show that if the province does nothing the number of cases will continue to rise and by the end of the month there could be more than 200 people in hospitals with COVID-19.

“We are facing a critical situation and we need serious action to deal with it,” Russell said.

Read more:

COVID-19: Hundreds of NB health care workers isolate themselves as hospitalizations increase

She said while the numbers will continue to rise even with restrictions, “but the magnitude of that increase will depend on everyone following public health measures.”

Russell said the Omicron variant is much more transmissible and infects faster than previous variants of COVID-19. She said those most at risk are people who have not been vaccinated or who have not received their second dose or booster dose.

“Please don’t look for loopholes,” Russell said.

“It’s no exaggeration to say it’s a matter of life and death.”

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Russell said we all need to act to limit the impact of the crisis, adding that no one wants to see people die, who could have been saved if their hospital had beds and staff to care for them.

More soon.

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