N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Premier tests positive for COVID-19; non-urgent surgeries cancelled
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19 after completing a rapid test.
Higgs participated virtually in a news conference Friday morning to update the public on COVID-19 testing, isolation and contact tracing in light of the dominant Omicron variant.
The premier said he came into close contact with others who were positive and is now awaiting a PCR test result. Higgs, who had received two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and a booster shot, said he is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms in the form of a cough, sore throat and head congestion. He is isolating with his family.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conveyed his best wishes Friday for the premier's recovery.
"At the current rate of growth, we could see as many as 1,000 new cases every day within a week," said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard at the news conference.
She said while hospitalization numbers remain relatively low, that is likely to change in the days ahead.
The provincial government announced that non-urgent and elective surgeries and procedures are being cancelled due to the strain on the province's health-care system from the COVID surge.
"We're on the precipice of the most serious situation our province has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic began," Shephard said.
The minister was not able to provide a figure for the number of procedures that are now cancelled. The provincial update came as New Brunswick once again broke its record for new COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, the province announced 682 new cases. Active cases now total 3,522.
There are 45 people in hospital with 21 in intensive care. Of those in hospital, 29 are over the age of 60 and 11 people are on a ventilator. No one under 19 is currently hospitalized.
A person between the ages of 50 and 59 in the Saint John region has died as a result of COVID-19.
As well, Correctional Service Canada has confirmed that three inmates and seven staff members at Atlantic Institution in Smiths Crossing have tested positive for COVID-19.
The new cases reported Friday break down this way:
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief of staff has agreed to testify before one of the committees investigating the Chinese government's interference in Canada's elections.
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A student-built satellite from the University of Alberta that will capture images of active wildfires has made it into orbit after a successful launch last week.