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New Brunswick has confirmed its first cases of the B117 COVID-19 variant, initially detected in the U.K.
A total of three cases have been identified in the province, two are related to international travel and one associated with travel within Canada. Two cases are in the St. John area of the province and one is in the Miramichi region.
“The arrival of the U.K. variant...will put more pressure on our health system and our immunization rollout,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We really need to get our most vulnerable people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
She added that when this new variant gets into the population, it will be difficult to “stay ahead of it” with contact tracing and self-isolation.
“Now more than ever all New Brunswickers really must avoid unnecessary travel, both within and outside the province,” Dr. Russell said. “No version of COVID-19 can move on its own, it needs people to move it.”
“If you are planning a vacation outside of the province or outside the country, it is a very risk time to travel right now, not only for your own safety when you get there but when you return back, again, travel related cases continue to be driving outbreaks.”
Dr. Russell stressed that if anyone has even mild possible COVID-19 symptoms, they need to get tested for the virus.
“The weeks and months ahead could be very challenging unless we all take urgent action to limit the spread of this virus are its variants,” she said.