14-day lockdown imposed in northern N.B. region to stop spread of COVID-19

·2 min read

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Edmundston region is moving into a 14-day lockdown beginning Saturday at midnight as health officials try to curb rising infections, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday.

"The growth of cases in this zone and the spread through several workplaces and long-term care homes has really reached a point where the strongest measures are needed," Russell told reporters. "The measures being announced today are stern but they are necessary."

Russell's new health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. The situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days, Russell said, adding that cabinet may extend the lockdown if required.

She said the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region, has 129 active reported infections. Because of the way the virus multiplies, that number could grow to 200 cases by next week and 400 before the end of the month, she said.

Russell said the infection rate in the northern region is 309 cases per 100,000 people — nearly six times the rate for the entire province, which is 59 cases per 100,000 people.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston. "We are trying to minimize interaction," Shephard said. "Fewer people going out and about for non-essential reasons will allow us to get out of this lockdown faster."

Formal indoor gatherings, such as weddings and religious services, are also prohibited. Shephard said there will be a ban on evictions during the lockdown, adding that landlords will have to wait until at least 10 days after the measures are lifted to evict tenants. Gatherings are restricted to members of a household, she said.

New Brunswick's recent spike in cases traces back to gatherings over the holidays and increased travel in and out of the province, Russell said. "We had almost 3,000 more travellers around that period of time than we normally do."

New Brunswick reported 30 new COVID-19 infections Friday — 19 of which were identified in the Edmundston area.

Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton will remain at the red pandemic-alert level, while Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi will stay at the lower, orange level, Russell said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press