Coronavirus: 8 new COVID-19 cases identified in New Brunswick, border checks to be conducted

As of Wednesday, eight new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in New Brunswick, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 26.

During a provincial update, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the cases are all related to travel.

Russell said the new cases involve individuals between the ages of 10 and 70.

“New Brunswick is testing more people and more widely,” said Russell. “So far, more than 700 tests have been conducted in the province.”

She also noted that the current situation could take from 18 to 24 months to be resolved, as researchers seek to create a vaccine for the virus. For now, Russell stressed that people should stay at home as much as they possibly can.

As of Wednesday, Premier Blaine Higgs, who was also at the press briefing, announced there will be restrictions for all travellers coming from outside the province.

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Higgs said all travellers, whether they’re coming from abroad or from other provinces, must self-isolate for 14 days.

“Unnecessary travels are no longer allowed,” he said.

Peace officers are authorized to turn away visitors when they attempt to enter.

“We must do all we can to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in New Brunswick,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “We are implementing screening at interprovincial borders. Regardless of where you are, we urge you to avoid any non-essential travel.”

Travellers entering the province from Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia will be stopped by peace officers and required to produce identification. Contact information and intended destinations are being collected and tracked for all travellers, including those travelling through New Brunswick to another province.

Like measures at the Canada-United States border, commercial traffic and essential employees will be exempt so that services are maintained and critical supplies can continue to move across provincial boundaries unimpeded. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and members of the military will also be exempt from these measures.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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New Brunswick unveils coronavirus self-assessment tool, urges continued social distancing

New Brunswick has unveiled an online self-assessment tool to assist the province’s residents during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The tool is available on the province’s website and is meant to help indicate who needs to be tested for COVID-19. Other provinces have introduced similar tools this week.

The assesment tool was unveiled during an update provided by Premier Blaine Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, on Friday.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in the province and there remains seven confirmed cases and four presumptive cases.

Russell said two days in a row of no new cases means very little and that there she expects more travel-related cases to pop up as people continue to return home.

Russell asked that New Brunswickers follow the order to self-isolate for 14 days if they have travelled internationally.

Self-isolating does not mean getting their own groceries, Russell said.

But individuals are allowed to step outside for a breath of fresh-air while observing social distancing.

“Limit screen time and social media,” said Russell. “Have some structure and routine to your day.”

Higgs echoed the important of self-isolation and social-distancing.

“It is imperative we do all we can to keep everyone else healthy,” said Higgs on Friday.

Higgs also announced a plan to defer payments on provincial student loans, an action that matches a decision made by the federal government earlier this week.

The premier announced the decision to declare a state of emergency at a press conference on Thursday, saying it was necessary to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19.

“Declaring a state of emergency was not an easy decision,” Higgs said.

“We need to ensure essential services… remain open.”

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