The provincial government announced updates to its COVID-19 vaccination plan Thursday.

Vaccination clinics will no longer be organized for large employers and home care workers as previously planned. Instead, people in these groups will be vaccinated once their age cohort is eligible.

“Focusing on age-based eligibility will maximize efficiency and allow us to react to changing supply chains as we work to vaccinate New Brunswickers quickly and efficiently with the vaccines available to us,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “We must be able to make adjustments to our vaccination rollout plan based on updated guidance and the supply of vaccine that is available.”

It was also announced today that rotational workers, truck drivers and regular cross-border commuters may now choose to schedule an appointment to receive their first dose of the vaccine through a regional health authority clinic. People in these groups may reserve an appointment at a Vitalité Health Network or Horizon Health Network clinic online or by calling 1-833-437-1424. As was previously the case, they may also book an appointment by contacting a pharmacy.

“We are continuing to work hard to achieve our objective of providing the first dose of the vaccine to every New Brunswicker before Canada Day,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Our vaccination campaign has accelerated significantly over the past month, and we are making great progress despite occasional supply issues and other setbacks.”

Seven new cases

Public Health reported seven new cases Thursday.

The one case in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) is an individual 50-59 and is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

The six cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) are as follows:

  • an individual 19 and under;
  • two people 30-39;
  • an individual 60-69;
  • an individual 70-79; and
  • an individual 80-89.

Of the six cases, three are under investigation and three are contacts of a previously confirmed case.

The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,686. Since yesterday, 24 people have recovered for a total of 1,508 recoveries. There have been 31 deaths, and the number of active cases is 146. Twenty patients are hospitalized, including 13 in an intensive care unit. Yesterday, 1,082 tests were conducted for a total of 264,084.

“We are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital, which is putting renewed strain on our health-care system,” Russell said. “The Edmundston Regional Hospital has reached capacity for COVID cases, and some admissions are being diverted to other health zones. My thoughts are with the people in this region, and I thank them for continuing to follow public health guidance during this difficult time.”

Update on high schools

Updates have been made to the Return to School plan. Students in regions at the Yellow or Orange levels will resume full-time, in-person learning as early as April 12. Students in regions at the Red level will engage in blended learning practices.

As such, all high schools in Zone 4, with the exception of Polyvalente A.-J.-Savoie in Saint-Quentin and École Marie-Gaétane in Kedgwick, will continue to follow their current learning schedules under the updated Red level protocols. Guidelines for the return to full-time, in-person learning in high schools are available online.

Students at the following schools are reminded they will only resume full-time, in-person learning on April 19, because vaccination clinics to support the updated Return to School plan were postponed last week:

  • Dalhousie Regional High School
  • Sugarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton
  • École Aux Quatre Vents in Dalhousie
  • Polyvalente Roland-Pépin in Campbellton
  • Bathurst High School
  • École Secondaire Népisiguit in Bathurst
  • Bonar Law Memorial High School in Rexton
  • École Mgr-Marcel-François-Richard in Saint-Louis de Kent
  • École Clément-Cormier in Bouctouche
  • Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud in Shediac

AstraZeneca vaccination clinics

Appointments are now available for people 55 and older at upcoming AstraZeneca vaccination clinics organized by Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network in Woodstock, Grand Falls, Campbellton, Bathurst, Tracadie, Miramichi, Moncton, Fredericton, Oromocto, Saint John and St. Stephen. Eligible individuals may register online or by calling 1-833-437-1424.

About 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have also been allotted to 132 pharmacies across the province. Some pharmacies have already filled vacancies for available appointments. To find out if appointments are available, people 55 and older are asked to check a pharmacy’s website and their social media channels prior to calling.

Rules for post-secondary education students who are moving

With the end of the academic year approaching for students attending universities and community colleges, the following rules will go into effect for students and anyone helping them to move their belongings in and out of the province as of Friday, April 9, at 11:59 p.m. under the province’s mandatory order:

  • People may enter New Brunswick for a period of no more than 24 hours to transport a student and/or remove belongings from a student’s residence. They are expected to observe all public health rules and minimize contact with others, except the student they are picking up.
  • Staying longer than 24 hours is considered remaining in the province and the 14-day self-isolation period would then apply.
  • Before travelling to New Brunswick, people should check with their home province to see if further restrictions apply upon returning home.
  • New Brunswickers may enter Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador, as long as those provinces permit them to do so, for no more than 24 hours to remove belongings from a student’s residence. They are expected to observe all public health rules and minimize contact with others while away but will not be required to self-isolate upon their return.
  • Anyone leaving New Brunswick to remove belongings from a student’s residence located outside the Atlantic provinces is ordered, upon their return, to self-isolate for 14 days and follow the directions of public health officials. As well, students entering from outside the Atlantic provinces are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
  • Students returning to New Brunswick from other Atlantic provinces will not need to self-isolate upon their return.

MyHealthNB update

The Department of Health has expanded the use of the MyHealthNB website, a secure web portal that was created during the first wave of the pandemic to allow eligible New Brunswickers to obtain access to their COVID-19 test results. The program now has new features, allowing eligible New Brunswickers with a Medicare card to access their records faster and print an official copy of a recent COVID-19 test result from the safety of their home.

Reminder of Yellow and Red levels

Except for the area designated as Red level in Zone 4, all other zones and communities remain in the Yellow level, under the province’s mandatory order.

No travel is recommended in and out of Zone 4 except when necessary, such as for medical appointments and essential work. This recommendation includes no travel to hockey games or other sporting events in other zones.

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