New Brunswick opens vaccination to 18 and up, reports 42nd COVID-19 death

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FREDERICTON — A resident in their 70s of a special-care home in Grand Falls, N.B., is the 42nd person to die in New Brunswick of COVID-19.

Health officials said Tuesday the Pavillon Beau-Lieu resident died in hospital in Edmundston, the sixth person from the residence to die of the disease.

Officials reported 10 new novel coronavirus infections Tuesday, nine in the Fredericton region and one in the Bathurst area.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, thanked the 871 New Brunswickers who are currently self-isolating, and made note of the staff at two Fredericton hotels where cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.

"In particular I want to offer my thanks and support to the staff of the Delta Hotel and the Hilton Hotel in Fredericton and their families," she said at a news conference in Fredericton. "This is a stressful time for staff and families and they need the support of friends and neighbours."

On Monday, Health Department officials confirmed there had been 25 cases linked to the Delta Hotel, which was designated as an isolation hotel last month. Russell said while the cases are linked to the hotel, not all were guests or were even in the property.

"This could have been a guest, it could have been staff. Included in that 25 total could be household members, could be close contacts outside of the household in other settings," she said.

Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson said while he supports the idea of isolation hotels, he has a lot of questions. "Did the government provide all the tools and information for hotels to participate and have all the right protocols?," Melanson asked during an interview Tuesday.

Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters at the legislature Tuesday that the move to get the isolation hotels in place was rushed.

"When we first decided to isolate everyone coming in the province, it was kind of at the height of the pandemic we were seeing around us. We could have waited another two, three or four days to get it right, or we could get on with it and make sure that people were isolated," Higgs said.

"While there may have been some wrinkles that we ironed out later ... I still say that the best reaction was the quick one," he said.

There are currently three hotels in the province that are only permitted to accept isolating travellers.

Health officials also announced Tuesday that New Brunswickers as young as 18 can book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

New Brunswick has 121 active reported cases of COVID-19. Nine New Brunswickers are hospitalized with the disease, five of whom are in New Brunswick and four are in hospital outside the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press