New Brunswick imposes 14-day household quarantine if COVID-19 case detected
By Kevin Bissett
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is tightening quarantine rules to address continuing high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in their household — regardless of their vaccination status — must isolate for up to 14 days, and failure to do so could result in a fine of between $480 and $20,400.
Household members who are fully vaccinated will be able to leave isolation if they test negative after five days and will also need a negative test on Day 10. Until now, isolation has not been required for household members who are vaccinated.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says 49 per cent of new cases in the past week resulted from transmission within a household.
The province reported 72 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 566. Russell said 28 people are hospitalized, including 14 in intensive care.
The province is ending circuit-breaker measures in the Miramichi and Moncton regions that included limiting gatherings to single households and restricting travel in and out. The change takes effect Friday at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, Premier Blaine Higgs said he won’t extend Friday’s deadline for all government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which means about 2,000 employees will be placed on leave without pay at the end of the day.
“This applies to all areas of the public service, government departments, school districts, the health-care system and Crown corporations. There will be very, very few exceptions to this,” Higgs said during a news conference in Fredericton.
According to the premier, 2.9 per cent of employees in government departments, or about 307 people, are currently unvaccinated. In school districts, that number is 4.1 per cent, or about 792 employees. In the health sector, 3.4 per cent of employees are unvaccinated — or 734 employees. And in Crown corporations, 2.5 per cent, or 162 employees, are unvaccinated.
Higgs said the overall figure is just over three per cent of government employees, an improvement from the 10 per cent level before the vaccine mandate was announced.
“If this is what it takes in order to get people to be vaccinated … then I guess that’s where we are,” he said.
Higgs said another 860 employees who have had one dose of vaccine and have a confirmed appointment for their second dose, will be allowed to continue working.
He said efforts are being made to offset the loss of staff, and officials will ensure the hospitals are able to function.