Coronavirus Canada updates: New Brunswick cluster continues to get worse after doctor disobeyed rules, exposed 150 people

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There are now six COVID-19 cases part of a cluster — believed to be linked to an “irresponsible” health-care professional — after three more patients were identified in New Brunswick’s Campbellton region.

Premier Blaine Higgs first described the individual as “irresponsible” on Wednesday, because they did not self-isolate upon return to the province after a personal trip to Quebec earlier this month. Instead, the individual in their 50s continued to see patients during a two-week stretch at Campbellton Regional Hospital in the Restigouche area.

“Information on this health-care professional has been passed along to the RCMP to determine exactly what took place, and whether charges are warranted,” Higgs said on Thursday in New Brunswick, where you must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the province.

The head of Vitalité Health Network, one of two health authorities in New Brunswick, said in an interview with CBC that at least 150 people were exposed to the infected doctor. That includes 50 health-care workers at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and 100 people in the community.

Gilles Lanteigne said there are “definitely more.”

Over the next couple days, he expects 500 people to be tested for COVID-19. Lanteigne did not disclose the identity of the health-care professional, but did say he is a man.

The emergency department at the Campbellton Regional Hospital is now closed until further notice due to the increased risk of COVID-19.

The three new cases that were announced on Thursday involve an individual under the age of 19, an individual in their 40s, and a person over the age of 90. The other two patients part of the cluster are a senior in their 90 and a child who attended two daycares.

The child was identified on May 21, following a two-week stretch where New Brunswick reported no new cases, while also having all of its then 120 patients recover from the virus.

Officials were able to link all of the cases after identifying the health-care professional, whose case was announced on Wednesday in New Brunswick.

Because of the cluster, the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said they expect to see more cases in the upcoming weeks.

On Thursday, officials announced that “as a result of the outbreak,” activities previously scheduled to be permitted on May 29 as part of the “Yellow” phase will be delayed by one week to June 5. That includes outdoor public gatherings and indoor religious services of 50 people or fewer, as well as the reopening of gyms, yoga and dance studios, among other activities.

The province’s legislative assembly has also adjourned until June 9, two days after reopening, in order for all members to continue to focus on COVID-19.

On Wednesday, officials made the decision to move the Campbellton zone back to “Orange,” which prohibits personal services such as barbers and spas from reopening. The entire province moved to the second phase, “Yellow,” on Friday.

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