NB reports 13 new COVID-related deaths in past week, increase in hospitalizations

The New Brunswick government is reporting 13 new COVID-related deaths over the past seven days.

The new deaths bring the province’s total throughout the pandemic up to 349, according to the update made to the government-run COVID-19 dashboard, which has only been updated on Tuesdays in recent weeks.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have also continued to increase, climbing from 99 two weeks ago to 129 a week ago, to 142 as of Tuesday.

On Feb. 28, the province reported hospitalization were at 89.

Of those currently in hospital, 66 were admitted because of COVID-19, while 76 were patients who tested positive after being admitted for something else.

The new numbers come just over two weeks after the provincial government dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, such as mandatory indoor masking, gathering limits, and isolation requirements for those who test positive.

Decrease in ICU patients

While hospitalizations have continued to climb, the number of patients requiring intensive care has gone down from 16 to eight. That figure stood at 13 two weeks ago.

Of those currently in ICU, five are there because of COVID-19, while three were admitted for other reasons but tested positive.

The number of people on a ventilator has also gone down, from five to three.

There are currently 633 health-care workers who are COVID-positive and isolating, which represents an increase of 143 from last week.

This week’s figure includes 281 employees with Vitalité Health Network, 274 with Horizon Health Network, and 78 with either Extra-Mural or Ambulance New Brunswick.

Overall health-care capacity in the province stands at 90 per cent, while ICU occupancy stands at 73 per cent.

‘We know a sixth wave is coming’

Question period in the legislature Tuesday saw an exchange between Health Minister Dorothy Shephard and Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson, with Shephard accusing Melanson of “fear mongering” and Melanson suggesting Premier Blaine Higgs has given up on New Brunswickers when it comes to COVID protections.

“There’s a sixth wave that some New Brunswickers, a lot of New Brunswickers are worried [about],” Melanson said.

“If it gets worse, is the government going to act? Is the government going to take some measures to try to minimize some risks of the sixth wave?”

In response, Shephard said the government remains “nimble” in its ability to take direction from Public Health.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said her government remains nimble in its ability to respond to recommendations from Public Health. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

“We know a sixth wave is coming, we see it now, but we also know that what’s happening in our province is still happening elsewhere,” she said.

“We have followed the epidemiological information. We have high vaccination rates. Mr. Speaker, there is no easy answer here, but if Public Health tells us we need to take more measures, they’re going to be coming to government with recommendations. Mr. Speaker, those are roads we’ll travel when they happen.”

Speaking to CBC News on Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said trends in other jurisdictions outside New Brunswick show a sixth wave on the horizon.

However, she said the numbers being seen currently in New Brunswick are still part of the fifth wave, adding it appears they’ll peak and begin to decline over the next two weeks.

“Will we finish this wave before the next wave hits? That is not certain but again we’re having those conversations at the national level around what the next things we’re expecting in the next coming weeks and months,” Russell said.

Breakdown of new deaths

The 13 COVID-related deaths announced Tuesday occurred in five of the province’s seven zones, including seven in Zone 1, the Moncton region, one in Zone 2, Saint John region, two in Zone 3, Fredericton region, two in Zone 6, Bathurst region and one in Zone 7, Miramichi region.

Moncton region, Zone 1

  • A person in their 50s, a person each in their 70s and 80s, and four 90 or older

Saint John region, Zone 2

Fredericton area, Zone 3

  • A person in their 70s and a person 90 or older

Bathurst region, Zone 6

  • A person in their 70s and a person 90 or older

Miramichi region, Zone 7

7,647 new cases

The dashboard update also shows that 3,096 new cases of COVID-19 were detected using lab-based PCR tets, while 4,551 new cases were detected using at-home rapid tests.

The regional breakdown of the PCR-confirmed cases includes:

Moncton region, Zone 1

Saint John region, Zone 2

Fredericton area, Zone 3

Edmundston region, Zone 4

Campbellton region, Zone 5

Bathurst region, Zone 6

Miramichi region, Zone 7

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