Recent COVID developments in New Brunswick have brought new restrictions to some areas and prompted changing hospital standards in the province.
The active case count continues to hover around 1,000 and the volume of patients admitted to the ICU has prompted the healthcare system to go into “red alert.”
One significant change is that no visitors are allowed at Horizon facilities except in certain circumstances such as when a patient is in critical care or is actively dying.
Physicians are also being redirected from emergency care to attend to the rising number of COVID patients in the ICU.
At Oromocto hospital, the system is strained to the point of requiring reduced emergency room hours. While the emergency department was previously open from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., it now closes 6 hours earlier, at 4:00 p.m. The Oromocto emergency department now has only one physician staffed during operating hours.
Patients will be redirected to the Fredericton hospital after these hours, which is leading to longer wait times for patients. One UNB student was told that an x-ray would take between 8–10 hours at Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital. Upon learning this, the individual chose to go to the Oromocto emergency room the next day, spending 6 hours at the hospital before receiving an x-ray.
To help the system cope with increased levels, the province has implemented circuit breaker COVID restrictions in areas with high case counts and low vaccination rates. The main restrictions are that individuals may not gather outside of their single-household bubble unless at an establishment where proof of vaccine is mandatory to enter. These restrictions expired on October 22, at which time the government decides whether to keep them in place.
Effective as of October 18, the rapid COVID testing plan has been rolled out across New Brunswick.
Members of the public will be able to pick up a rapid test kit at any of 20 locations provincewide. This includes one location in Fredericton — the Exhibition grounds on Smythe Street.
The vast majority of kits are being handed out in health zones under circuit breaker restrictions.
The kit consists of 5 tests. They provide peace of mind to individuals after a potential COVID exposure.
Many cases in unvaccinated people are asymptomatic. A rapid test ensures the individual is not an asymptomatic transmitter of the virus.
Kits are available to any member of the public. The province encourages only those exposed to the virus to claim them in order to preserve a limited supply.
Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals make up the entirety of admitted ICU patients battling COVID. New Brunswick encourages everyone who has not done so to get vaccinated.