Six more presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in New Brunswick, bringing the total number of confirmed or presumptive cases to 17.
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the six new cases during a news conference on Saturday.
The six new cases involve men and woman ranging in age from 20 to 70 years old. Five of the cases are located in Zone 2 (southern New Brunswick) while the sixth is located in Zone 3 (central New Brunswick).
Russell said four of the individuals cases had been on a cruise, and the other two cases were in direct or close contact with a previously identified presumptive case. All six cases are now quarantined at home with mild to moderate symptoms. No one has been hospitalized at this time.
Russell also said she expects the number of confirmed cases to continue to increase in the coming weeks, as people return home from travelling abroad.
“Although there may not be any cases in your area yet, you need to act like there are,” said Russell. “There are people travelling from all over the world to different parts of New Brunswick, and we are anticipating that if they stay at home and self-isolate, then we contain the travel related cases, that is our goal right now.”
Saturday’s new cases came after two consecutive days with no new confirmed cases in the province. Russell says 747 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted, but does not have exact numbers of how many of those tests are negative, or pending, only that there are 17 confirmed or presumptive cases.
The province has set up 13 new community assessment centres to help ease the burden in emergency departments, and has also created an online self-assessment tool that has been designed to reduce 811 call times.
Premier Blaine Higgs also spoke at Saturday’s news conference, reminding New Brunswickers that the Canada-U.S.A. border is now closed to non-essential travel. Higgs reassured residents of Campobello Island, N.B. that they will still be able to travel through the U.S. when necessary.
Higgs says he also has heard reports of New Brunswickers calling 911 to report people who are not adhering to self-isolation rules. Higgs says a designated phone number for these reports will be put in place on Sunday, but for now, residents should inform people of the rules they should be following while keeping their distance, and not call 911.
On Saturday, the province also announced new relief for residents accessing prescription medication, after previously announcing that patients will be restricted to 30 days worth of medication. Russell announced that for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients will only be responsible for the first co-payment on a 90-day prescription fill or refill.
“A patient with a 90-day prescription will only have a co-payment for the first 30-day fill, and there will be no co-payment required for the second or third 30-day fills on the same 90-day prescription,” explained Russell.
Higgs declared a state of emergency for New Brunswick on Thursday, giving his government power to enforce business closures and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.