Chief Medical Officer offers thanks to New Brunswickers
KATIE TOWER SACKVILLE TRIBUNE POST
SACKVILLE, N.B. – New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is praising New Brunswickers who are taking the necessary steps to help stem the tide of a COVID-19 outbreak in the province. Dr. Jennifer Russell said that while it’s "very likely" that in the coming days and weeks, she expects to share sad news about people becoming seriously ill, people being hospitalized and people dying, right now she is heartened to see the majority of New Brunswick residents are stepping up in these unprecedented times. And she offered her “profound thanks” to those who are following the directives set out when the provincial government declared a state of emergency last week. “To those who have closed their businesses and suffered financial losses, and uncertainty as a result, I say thank you,” she said during a daily press briefing on Monday. “To everyone who has taken a few extra minutes to thoroughly wash their hands several times a day, I say thank you.” “I would like to sincerely thank every parent who has kept themselves and their family members safe at home. In these challenging times, there are new realities. It is difficult, stressful and it can be heartbreaking. As a parent, we need to provide leadership to our families and we need to stay safe. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Russell also saluted the efforts of health-care professionals and others working in the health-care system. “We have to protect our health-care workers so they can carry on with this important work,” she said. “When we take actions to limit the spread of this disease, among those we are protecting are the front-line workers that are so valuable in this situation. When you stay home and practice social distancing, you are not only protecting yourselves, you are protecting the people who may soon be saving your life.” No new cases were reported in New Brunswick on Monday, with the number still standing at 17 in the province – eight confirmed and nine presumptive. All of the cases are related to international travel or to a confirmed case that has travelled outside the province. Russell announced that the laboratory at the Dr. Georges-l.-dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton is now able to give final confirmation of any tests completed in New Brunswick, without the necessity of sending them to the national laboratory in Winnipeg. “This will speed up the testing and confirmation process here in New Brunswick” After the remaining tests that were already submitted are returned, the province will be announcing positive and negative test results without the need for a presumptive category. “It is also important that we track those who have been in contact with others who have since become infected,” said Russell, pointing to a case from P.E.I. that may have implications for New Brunswick. The P.E.I. patient was showing symptoms on March 16 when they travelled from Toronto to Moncton on Westjet flight 3456. Premier Blaine Higgs also applauded those who have been complying with the state of emergency rules, noting that 94 per cent of businesses have been found to be in compliance to date. But he did acknowledge that, if necessary, the government will crack down on those who are not following the orders, with fines and possible closures. “No one wants to make this a law enforcement matter with charges and fines, but we are ready to do what is needed for everyone to comply,” said Higgs. “We are especially concerned with businesses operating despite the order and with individuals who are required to self-isolate who are not doing it. We are not asking you to do this lightly. We know it impacts your business. But it is imperative that non-essential businesses comply if we are going to flatten the curve.” Higgs also announced the provincial government is discussing the idea of whether it will follow the lead of other provinces and directing anyone crossing inter-provincial borders to selfisolate for 14 days.