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N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Province announces first new case since April 18 –

After more than two weeks without any new confirmed cases of COVID-19, New Brunswick has recorded a new infection.

The individual is in the Fredericton region and is 30 to 39 years old, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday.

She said the case is under investigation and it’s not yet known if it’s travel-related or a community transmission.

“We must be ready to address new cases as they occur,” she said during a news briefing.

This is the first case New Brunswick has seen since April 18.

Most jurisdictions see a second wave, we might see a third and fourth wave depending on how things go.– Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health

Meanwhile, an individual passing through the Moncton airport last week who tested positive for COVID-19 was not tested in New Brunswick, according to Public Health.

She didn’t say how long they may have been in New Brunswick or what province they went to.

“While we believe the person is not in New Brunswick, we are confirming with another jurisdiction the person’s whereabouts,” said Russell.

“The established protocol for travel by known cases, where provincial and territorial officials are expected to notify their counterparts in the receiving jurisdiction, was not followed in this case.”

An individual passing through the Moncton airport last week tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo: Shane Magee/CBC News)

Any person who travelled on this flight is directed to self-isolate for 14 days and to contact Tele-Care 811 or their primary health-care provider if symptoms of COVID-19 emerge.

She said New Brunswick public health has asked federal government officials to get information about this situation, and to discuss what can be done to avoid it in the future.

“I feel there are some gaps here and I have many, many staff looking into this right now.”

Russell also said air passengers are screened for COVID-19 before and after they get on a flight. All passengers are required to wear a mask.

119 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical of health, said the province has already seen it’s first wave of COVID-19.

“Most jurisdictions see a second wave, we might see a third and fourth wave depending on how things go,” she said.

To date, there have been 119 confirmed cases in New Brunswick. The other 118 people have since recovered from their illness.

There is one new case of COVID-19 in New Brunswick (CBC News)

“We will never be able to achieve and maintain zero cases in perpetuity,” she said. “…Our goal was always to be able to live with the virus knowing that population is armed with as much information and as much knowledge to protect themselves as possible.”

The province announced on Saturday that it would reduce the number of times Higgs and other officials brief the public on the outbreak, switching to three times a week from five.

On Saturday, when announcing there were no active cases in the province, the government said it would reduce the number of coronavirus briefings to three a week from five.

On Tuesday, however, it was announced that Russell would hold a briefing.

Gerontologist wants province to prioritize nursing homes

The province should prioritize a way for nursing home residents to have closer contact with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, a gerontologist says.

Deborah van den Hoonaard said keeping nursing home residents away from their families during the pandemic is another symptom of ageism and how society does not properly treat seniors.

“When I listen to the updates I don’t hear anything about talking about how we might change some of the visitation rules in long-term care to help the families,” said van den Hoonaard.

“It’s just not a priority.”

Last month, the province announced that nursing homes would receive 480 iPads to help residents stay connected with their loved ones.

She said provincial experts are “creative” enough to come up with reasonable accommodation for those families — if it was a priority.

Van den Hoonaard said window visits, video chats and phone calls are better than nothing, but not necessarily ideal.

“It’s not the same as being in the same room,” said van den Hoonaard.

“If you have dementia, seeing your family through a window, talking on the phone must be extremely confusing.”

Province faces huge deficit after missing out on revenue, analyst says

While New Brunswick’s pre-COVID-19 budget forecast a $100 million surplus, one public policy consultant expects that will now be a deficit of up to half a billion dollars.

Moncton economist Richard Saillant expects the province to miss out on $300 to $600 million in revenue because of the pandemic.

And while losses will be partly compensated by a reduction in some services, like cancelled elective surgeries, that will be greatly outweighed by assistance packages to businesses and individuals.

Saillant said the province has put the economy into an induced coma, hoping it will be healthy when awakened — but no one is really sure what will happen.

“The private sector forecasters are essentially revising their forecasts almost by the week and it’s headed in the wrong direction,” said Saillant.

Moncton economist Richard Saillant expects the province to miss out on up $600 million in revenue because of COVID-19. (CBC)

“The situation is extremely fluid and dynamic but it wouldn’t be surprising if by the end of the year there was a hole of about five to 10 per cent in the economy.”

Saillant said the economy could further be hurt by demographics.

The province’s workforce is still rapidly aging, with 12,000 New Brunswickers reaching retirement age this year with only 8,000 reaching working age.

This is something the province had been counting on immigration to help solve.

But the kind of immigration needed to stem the aging is not possible during the pandemic.

Saillant said the province could also be hurt by assistance programs offered by the federal government.

Various programs aimed at helping Canadians during the pandemic will see Ottawa go further into debt, something they will have to address.

“There will be pressures for Ottawa to lower its spending considerably in the years ahead or at least lower its spending growth to deal with its deficit and debt,” said Saillant.

“Historically what this has meant in the past was for provinces to bear the brunt of this in the form of lower provincial transfers.”

Moncton to begin charging for parking

Moncton will resume charging for parking in city-owned lots and most on-street parking meters Wednesday.

Meters around the two hospitals will continue to be free between 6 p.m. and 7:45 a.m. on weekdays.

The meters are free on weekends.

In April, Moncton council voted to stop charging for parking in city lots and most parking meters until early May. The step was one of several “financial relief” measures adopted by city council.

On Monday, councillors agreed with a staff recommendation to resume charging as the province prepares to ease pandemic restrictions.

A staff report noted Saint John and Fredericton have recently resumed charging for parking.

City of Fredericton explores ways to help local businesses

Fredericton City Council has been looking at ways to help local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis and is expected to have more plans rolling out later this week.

The city has already said it would waive fees for sidewalk patios and give permits for extra space outside.

Ken Forrest, director of planning and development for the city, said the city is also looking at options using public spaces.

“We may be able to program for additional seating for restaurants, so we’re doing a lot of work in that area as well,” said Forrest.

The Happy Baker with empty seats inside its closed location in downtown Fredericton. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

“I think when we get a better sense of where the province is going with, you know, further reopening details we’ll look where the municipality may be able to help out with other sectors,” said Forrest.

The city has also partnered with a number of Fredericton groups to form the #SupportFredLocal website, which directs residents to businesses that are open or offering alternative forms of purchase like online shopping, take-out and delivery during COVID-19 pandemic.

What to do if you have symptoms

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment on the government website. People with two of those symptoms are asked to:

  • Stay at home.

  • Immediately call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor

  • Describe symptoms and travel history.

  • Follow instructions.

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