Coronavirus Canada updates: New Brunswick cluster gets worse after doctor fails to follow social-distancing rules, exposes 150 people

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: First school case identified in New Brunswick
Coronavirus Canada Updates: First school case identified in New Brunswick

Two of New Brunswick’s six cases in Campbellton — believed to be linked to a doctor who defied social-distancing rules — are now in intensive care.

Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin, Campbellton’s mayor, said it’s worrisome considering the region only has four ICU beds for its population of about 20,000. She, along with many others, believed that the province had freed itself of COVID-19 when all of its then 120 patients had recovered on May 16.

All six new cases are believed to be linked to a health-care professional, who did not self-isolate upon return to the province after a personal trip to Quebec earlier this month. Instead, the doctor continued to see patients during a two-week stretch at Campbellton Regional Hospital in the Restigouche area.

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, but there are “definitely more,” said Gilles Lanteigne.

“They’re mad, they’re really peeved,” Anglehart-Paulin said about the region’s reaction. “They just can’t believe how someone, who was a professional, could have made that bad of a decision. But everyone makes mistakes. … We thought it would never happen to Campbellton, but here we are today, it’s like a horror movie really.”

Over the next couple days, Lanteigne 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 doctor has been suspended, Vitalité has confirmed, while RCMP investigates the situation.

New Brunswick officials will provide a COVID-19 update Friday afternoon.

On Thursday, three new cases that were announced, involving 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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