UK COVID-19 Variant in New Brunswick

The UK variant, also known as the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, has been identified in New Brunswick, with three confirmed cases and one unconfirmed case. 

During the January 29 update, Dr. Jennifer Russell explained the danger of the new variants, including the UK variant. 

“These are much more transmissible, they’re much more contagious, they infect way more people,” Dr. Russell said. “These strains have a high degree of spreading that is 30-70 per cent higher than the initial form of the virus.”

Dr. Russell implored New Brunswick residents to adhere to virus guidelines to limit the spread, referencing devastating incidents of community spread in other provinces as a word of warning. 

“The new variants are in Canada, and they are causing a lot of harm,” Dr. Russell said, discussing a breakout of the UK variant at an Ontario nursing home. “47 residents actually passed away; that is more deaths than New Brunswick has seen in the entire pandemic in just one facility. It is very sobering.”

New Brunswick Starts First Stage of Modernizing Government

In January, New Brunswick announced an initiative to modernize the existing government structure to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

This initiative aims to reform the government that has been in existence since the mid-1960s, a system which does not meet the needs of current and future generations. 

“Various organizations and individuals (and many studies) have, in the past 20 plus years, continued to call for more substantial reform to the local governance system,” explains Government NB on their website. 

The intention is to obtain a better understanding of financial, social, environmental, and structural challenges that the province faces, while devising a new system that is sustainable and affordable for the future. 

“Nearly one-third of New Brunswickers don’t have a local government that can make decisions on their behalf,” explained Government NB. “Many communities have limited financial resources and struggle to provide or maintain good quality local services at an affordable cost.”

This plan will source input from the community, seeking collaboration towards the end of 2021 to identify issues plaguing locals, and to hear recommendations.  

New Brunswick Groups Translating Pandemic Information Into Multiple Languages

At the beginning of the pandemic, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council identified the need for information about the virus to be translated into languages other than English and French. With such a diverse population, the need for accessibility through language diversity was clear. 

The Council contacted settlement organizations across the province to launch an initiative to translate virus information into multiple languages, allowing the Council to maintain informed contact with newcomers to the province. 

“You get this amplification effect that’s happened to newcomers, that everything that was already badly impacting people who had strong roots here, was even more difficult for the people who had just arrived,” explained Justin Ryan, training and development manager with the Council, to CBC.

The efforts of the council have been able to relieve some stress for newcomers, who find hearing the information in their own language easier to digest. 

“Having the information in your mother tongue is the best and easiest way to understand,” explained Mohamed Bagha, managing director of the Saint Johns Newcomers Center, to CBC.