New Brunswick’s weekly COVID-19 report is showing a decrease in PCR-confirmed cases and hospitalizations.
For the week ending July 30, the number of PCR-confirmed cases decreased again this week to 747. Last week, the figure was 938, and the week before that saw 1,004 cases.
As well, the number of deaths is down slightly — four in the last week compared to five the week before.
Hospitalizations have dropped slightly, down one to 33 people in hospital, with five in intensive care.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the numbers are beginning to trend in the right direction.
“We’re seeing a bit of a stabilization, which is nice to see in terms of, you know, we don’t want to see the numbers going up, obviously,” she told Global News.
“But the message is still the same … everybody who is eligible for their next dose of vaccine, wherever they’re at, then they should really be getting that.”
Vaccine eligibility has expanded as well.
As of this week, the province is vaccinating children between the ages of six months and four years. Appointments are available through pharmacies and some health authority clinics.
Looking towards new school year
Russell advised parents to consider booking appointments as soon as possible.
“We’re looking at going into the school year in September so getting that protection as soon as possible is really important,” she said.
As for how the new school year might look, Russell said it’s something her department is regularly discussing with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
“At this time, we see that how things have been in the school system March onward — at this time we’re expecting that’s what we’ll see moving into the fall in terms of how the schools operate,” she said.
On March 14, Public Health lifted all remaining mandatory COVID-19 measures in the province, including mandatory masking in schools. As of that date, families and school staff were also no longer required to self-report cases of COVID-19 to schools and child-care facilities.
Vaccination is especially important, she said, because of circulating variants.
Amongst the most recent random sample sequenced in the province, 79 per cent were the highly-transmissible BA.5. Omicron subvariant. Twelve per cent were the BA. 4. subvariant.
“Any protection that we can improve upon with respect to people who have already been vaccinated and getting their boosters and also providing new vaccines for this age group, these are all things that are going to help us,” she said.
Access to vaccines
However, accessing vaccines for kids under five may not be so easy.
The province lists 14 pharmacies that are authorized to provide the Moderna vaccine for that age group, with none in the Edmundston or Campbellton health zones.
There are also none listed for the Upper Saint John River Valley.
Russell said the province is working to provide better access, but hasn’t heard of any “feedback” yet.
“Certainly our desire is to make sure that it is accessible all around the province and that there are appointments available. I’m not sure the impact of having a smaller number of health-care providers providing that vaccine at this time,” she said.
“But we’re going to monitor that and we’ll make sure that we do what we can to make sure that access is there.”
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