2 new cases of COVID-19 in Campbellton linked to doctor brings total to 8, including 2 in ICU

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell provided a COVID-19 update to reporters in Fredericton on Friday. (Government of New Brunswick/Submitted)

There are two new cases of COVID-19 in northern New Brunswick, bringing the total cluster in the Campbellton region to eight — all linked to a doctor who contracted the coronavirus outside the province and didn’t self-isolate when he returned.

One of the new cases is “unfortunately” someone in their 30s who works at a long-term care facility, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced on Friday.

Rapid testing at the facility is underway, she said.

The other new case is someone in their 60s.

Contact tracing shows people living outside the Campbellton region are in the circle of transmission, Russell told reporters during a news conference in Fredericton.

So the virus “could easily spread to other regions,” she said, urging people across the province to continue to be vigilant.

The doctor linked to the cases and who may have exposed at least 150 other people to the coronavirus has been suspended, the president and CEO of the Vitalité Health Network has confirmed.

The doctor, who is in his 50s, caught the virus when he recently travelled to Quebec. He then returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating for the mandatory 14 days.

Two of the eight people in the Campbellton region who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now in intensive care, Gilles Lanteigne said Friday morning. Both patients are in stable condition, according to Russell.

The doctor’s child is among the positive cases, Premier Blaine Higgs confirmed. The child attended two daycares in the region before being diagnosed.

Vitalité Health Network president and CEO Gilles Lanteigne said he expects 500 people in the Campbellton region to be tested for COVID-19 within the next couple of days. (CBC)

The other cases include two people in their 90s, someone under 19 and someone in their 40s.

One of the confirmed cases involves another health-care worker.

Could be ‘exponential rise’ in numbers

On Friday morning, Russell told CBC’s News Network it’s a “rapidly evolving situation,” and there could be an “exponential rise in the number of cases very quickly.”

Initial contact tracing indicated at least 150 people were potentially exposed to the infected doctor, including 50 health-care workers at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and 100 people in the community.

But Russell noted that was just the “first round” of contact tracing.

WATCH | N.B.’s chief medical officer of health says probe into new cluster ongoing:

Dr. Jennifer Russell calls for people to reserve judgment until an investigation into an outbreak in Campbellton linked to a doctor who didn’t self-isolate is complete. 12:15

“As each new case is diagnosed, there’s another round,” she said.

With three of the cases being health-care workers, “this can be very widespread.”

Test offered to anyone in Campbellton who wants it

COVID-19 testing is being offered to anyone in the Campbellton region who wants it, starting today.

There are about 25,000 people in the region, also known as health Zone 5.

Test sites have been set up at the Memorial Civic Centre in Campbellton and the Dalhousie Inch Arran Ice Palace.

People don’t need to have symptoms to be tested, but must call Tele-Care 811 to get an appointment.

The region extends from Whites Brook to the Village of Belledune, including Tide Head, Atholville, Campbellton, Dalhousie, Eel River Dundee, Eel River Bar First Nation, Balmoral and Charlo.

The closure of the Campbellton Regional Hospital’s ER and cancellation of all non-urgent or elective health-care services will continue until early next week, ‘due to the high risk of transmission of COVID-19,’ Vitalité Health Network said. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

On Wednesday, the premier announced a medical professional had travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, “was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick, and they did not self-isolate as a result.”

This professional then saw patients for two weeks at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and possibly other locations.

Higgs described the person’s actions as “irresponsible.”

Until last week, New Brunswick had no active cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. All 120 people infected since the pandemic began in March had recovered.

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