HALIFAX — New Brunswick remained just short of a vaccination target needed to trigger a partial reopening, as COVID-19 case numbers continued to be reported at lower levels across Atlantic Canada on Monday.
Health officials in New Brunswick said 74.8 per cent of people 12 years of age and older had received at least one shot of a vaccine, with another 1,345 people needed to reach the 75 per cent threshold and see a loosening of some public health restrictions.
The latest update came one week past the original June 7 target date officials had set to begin Phase 1 of the province's reopening.
“We are on the cusp on moving to phase one,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, in a news release. “Please book your appointments to get your first dose of the vaccine and we will all be able to enjoy summer with our friends and families.”
Once the target is reached, people from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to travel to New Brunswick without having to self-isolate upon entry, while cross-border commuters and truck drivers will also be able to forgo testing or quarantine requirements.
Outdoor gathering limits will be removed, while indoor gatherings will be capped at 20 people. Indoor faith gatherings will be allowed at 50 per cent capacity and with an operational plan.
New Brunswick reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday — a person in their 50s identified as a contact of a previous case in the Bathurst area.
There are 90 known active cases of novel coronavirus, with seven people hospitalized, including three in intensive care. One of the seven patients is in intensive care outside of the province.
Officials also announced that people who received their first dose of a vaccine prior to May 1 could now book an appointment for their booster shot. They said eligibility for a second dose would also be extended to everyone as of June 21, as long as at least 28 days has passed since their first dose.
“If you received Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, you can book an appointment for either vaccine for your second dose," Russell said.
Russell has recommended that people under 55 who received a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should get either Moderna or Pfizer for their second shot. Those 55 and older can receive either a second dose of AstraZeneca or one of the other two vaccines.
Nova Scotia, meanwhile, reported one death related to COVID-19 and eight new cases of the virus on Monday.
Health officials said a woman in her 80s died in the Halifax area, bringing the total number of deaths in the province since the pandemic began to 90.
All of the new reported cases were in the Halifax area, with three being close contacts of previously reported cases, two related to travel and three still under investigation.
Nova Scotia has 124 known active cases of novel coronavirus, with six people in hospital, including four in intensive care.
Like New Brunswick, the province is also continuing to offer second-dose vaccine appointments.
Officials said anyone who had received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine on or before April 24 could now choose a second dose of either vaccine, while anyone who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine could receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, officials reported four new cases of COVID-19 — all were in the province's western health region and identified as contacts of a previous case.
The province has 39 known active cases of novel coronavirus, with no one in hospital due to the infection.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press