By: Taylor Chalker

New Brunswickers Push for Rapid Covid Tests

New Brunswickers are pushing for the availability of rapid testing kits, with rising case numbers and increased waiting times on test results. 

Currently, a program exists within the provincial government to aid small and large businesses in obtaining rapid testing kits for their employees. However, citizens who seek testing kits of their own are being turned away. 

On September 29, Premiere Higgs explained that the government was working with the school board to make rapid testing kits available for schools in the province, but did not address when the kits would be available to the public. 

“We are looking at a testing policy for schools, and in the education system, and using rapid testing. And that will be brought forward by the department of education in the coming days or weeks,” he explained. 

The lack of available kits has forced many New Brunswickers to take time off of school or work as they wait for their results in self isolation, with some waiting weeks to get tested, and waiting further days for their results. The stress and financial strain of this has caused frustration across the province, with citizens calling for access to rapid testing. 

On October 1, Dr. Jennifer Russell addressed the province, speaking further to the distribution of rapid testing kits to schools, but neglecting to address the distribution of tests to the public. 

Colin Furness, epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, spoke with Information Morning Fredericton about the need for rapid testing. 

If everyone tested themselves every morning, you wouldn’t have transmission,” said Furness, who believes that anyone who wants a kit should be permitted to obtain one. 

As of October 4, approximately 85% of New Brunswickers have received the first dose of their vaccine, with 80% of residents being fully vaccinated. 

Protest at Tide and Boar

On September 24, approximately 30 people staged a protest against vaccination regulations outside of the Brewpub, Tide and Boar, in Saint John. 

The group asked the establishment to go against COVID-19 regulations, which would put the Brewpub at risk of fines up to $20,400, as well as fines for individuals who were found breaking the regulations. 

The establishment explained in a Facebook post that they are doing their best to observe government regulations.

“We have always done our best to have our guests feel as safe and comfortable as possible by closely following the advice and directives of Public Health,” read the post. “We hope that this encourages people to come out and support small, locally owned, and family businesses who are just trying to survive.”

Record Breaking COVID-19 Cases in New Brunswick

October 1-3 saw record highs as cases soared, with 93 new cases being reported on October 3 alone. This comes alongside the news of 2 deaths related to COVID-19, as public concern of the rising cases continues to rise. 

Some parents of school-age children are calling for a return to online classes in areas with high case counts, hoping to limit the spread while waiting for more information from Public Health and the New Brunswick school board. On the other hand, many families are concerned with finding adequate homecare for their children if schools make a return to online learning. 

“The more the schools close down, the more parents are left wondering what they are going to do next,” expressed Gary Collins, a concerned parent, to Global News.