When businesses and other organizations release their own statements about possible COVID-19- exposure, it can create confusion and anxiety with the public, says New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health.
“They feel like they’re doing their due diligence and it’s well-intentioned,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell. “But it can be very confusing for the public.”
Earlier this week, Public Health announced possible COVID-19 exposures at the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre and Montgomery Street School in Fredericton.
At the same time, the YMCA of Fredericton and GoodLife Fitness on Prospect Street in Fredericton released statements about possible COVID-19 exposures on their properties.
Russell said such announcements cause people to question why a business or organization is issuing an advisory and not Public Health.
“When Public Health is involved and Public Health has made the risk assessment, then you can feel confident the information shared is accurate,” she said.
To minimize confusion, Russell said it would be better if businesses and organizations refrained from releasing their own statements.
CBC News spoke recently with a Fredericton business owner frustrated by the poor flow of information from Public Health about what he should do after a visitor to his store tested positive for COVID-19.
But Russell said Public Health follows a standard process to decide if the public is at risk and whether a notice of exposure is necessary.
The process includes a detailed questionnaire, and how the questions are answered determines the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the public.
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will contact those who have been within two metres of that person for 15 minutes or longer — or have had brief exposures that were repetitive in a span of 24 hours that added up to 15 minutes or more.
Public Health also decides when that person was contagious and the contact tracing is based on that period of time.
Russell said there’s no need to issue a public advisory if close contacts are notified and there’s no risk of public exposure.
But if they can’t track down or reach all the close contacts, that’s when Public Health officials will notify citizens about potential exposure out of “an abundance of caution.”
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, will be speaking at a news briefing in Fredericton at 2:30 p.m.
Businesses don’t know what the rules are
The president and CEO of WorkSafeNB says the pandemic has been a difficult time for many New Brunswick businesses — especially when it comes to following the rules.
Doug Jones said the main concern he’s hearing from business owners is they aren’t sure what rules are.
He said WorkSafeNB spent time this week clarifying those guidelines.
“Essentially, we want people to wear a mask almost all the time, unless you’re in your own cubicle or in your own office space, in in the work environment,” he said.
“Just wear a mask all the time. That’s the biggest message.”
The biggest gap inspectors are also seeing is that many businesses don’t have a written operational plan .
He said businesses typically get a warning first. But if problems continue or pose a serious risk a business could be fined or shut down.
Public Health expects surge in testing
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said Public Health expects to see surges in COVID-19 testing when more outbreaks happen.
That’s when Public Health will ramp up testing capacity. They do this by adding more hours and testing centres, which they’ve done in Saint John.
There’s also a priority system in place to minimize risks of outbreaks, which includes first-responders and people living in long-term care facilities.
Russell said testing typically takes between 24 and 72 hours. Meanwhile, contact tracing is between 24 and 48 hours.
But there can be delays
“It is unfortunate but we keep track of that,” she said.
As of Tuesday, 117,588 tests have been conducted.
Hockey league postpones 7 games
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postponed seven games scheduled in the Maritimes Division this week. The games were scheduled in Charlottetown, Cape Breton, Moncton, Saint John and Bathurst.
According to its website, the decision was made after the announcement of new restrictions by Public Health officials in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Last week, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has postponed at least five games involving the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Cape Breton Eagles after a positive COVID-19 test.
The positive test was within the Saint John Sea Dogs organization.
All fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos in the region must close for the next two weeks, as well.
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is advising people to travel off the Island only for essential purposes.
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, all restaurants and bars in the Halifax region must close to in-person dining, except for takeout and delivery orders, for the next two weeks.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health is advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to Halifax.
If New Brunswickers are travelling from there, they should behave as though they’ve just come from an orange zone.
She is advising people to avoid gatherings and vulnerable people. They should also wear a mask inside and out.
“This is a rapidly changing situation and we’re assessing it every day,” Russell said.
And if risks are getting too high, New Brunswick will be cut off from Nova Scotia.
93 active cases of COVID-19
Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region (Zone 2), and include two people 19 or under and one person 30 to 39.
Two cases are in the Moncton region (Zone 1), both cases are individuals in their 20s.
There are now 93 active cases in the province, with no one in hospital with the disease.
Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, Moncton
New Brunswick Public Health has warned of the following possible exposures to COVID-19 in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.
Anyone who visited these places during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.
Saint John area
- Rothesay Route 1 Big Stop Restaurant on Nov. 14 between 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. (2870 Route 1, Rothesay).
- Pub Down Under on Nov. 14, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (400 Main St., Saint John)
- Fish & Brew on Nov. 14 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (800 Fairville Blvd., Saint John)
- Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John).
- Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John).
- NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John).
- Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay)
Let’s Hummus at 44 Water St. between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
Eighty-Three Bar Arcade at 43 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.
Callie’s Pub at 2 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.
O’Leary’s Pub at 46 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m.
Five and Dime Bar at 34 Grannan St. on Nov. 14, between 12:30 to 2:30 a.m
Freddie’s Pizza at 27 Charlotte St. on Nov. 14, between 2:30 to 3 a.m.
Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m.
Rocky’s Sports Bar at 7 Market Square on Nov. 13, between 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 14 between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.
- RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Fit 4 Less at 165 Main St. on Nov. 6-12, at various times between 5 p.m. and midnight. Full list on Public Health website.
GoodLife Fitness at Moncton Junction Village Gym on Nov. 6, between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- Aldo Shoes at Moncton Champlain Mall on Nov. 6-10 at various times between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
CEPS Louis-J. Robichaud fitness room at 40 Antonine-Maillet Ave. on Nov. 6, 9, 10 and 12 at various times in the evening from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tandoori Zaika Cuisine and Bar at 196 Robinson St. on Nov. 8, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.
Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Flights into Moncton:
Air Canada Flight 8954 on Nov. 15 from Winnipeg to Toronto, arrived at 8:16 p.m.
Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 15 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.
Air Canada Flight 0992 on Nov. 7 from Mexico City to Toronto, arrived at 7:20 p.m.
Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 7 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
A fever above 38 C.
A new cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should: