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COVID-19 and the flu kill 6 more New Brunswickers

New Brunswick has recorded 71 COVID-19 deaths since the respiratory season began on Aug. 27, a total of 1,226 hospitalizations and 79 ICU admissions. (CBC - image credit)
New Brunswick has recorded 71 COVID-19 deaths since the respiratory season began on Aug. 27, a total of 1,226 hospitalizations and 79 ICU admissions. (CBC - image credit)

COVID-19 and the flu have killed six more New Brunswickers, all aged 65 or older, and hospitalized 48 people, according to the latest figures from the province.

COVID activity remains "moderate," while flu activity continues to decrease, Tuesday's Respiratory Watch report says.

Four people died from COVID during the reporting period, Jan. 21 to Jan. 27.

Their deaths raise the pandemic death toll to at least 1,007. The total is likely higher since the province has counted only people who die in hospital as COVID deaths since September.

Thirty-six people were hospitalized for or with the virus, up from 31 the previous week. One of them was admitted to intensive care, down from three.

Among those in hospital is a child under four. The others include four people aged 20 to 44, seven aged 45 to 64, and 24 aged 65 or older.

Increase in outbreaks

Ten lab-confirmed COVID outbreaks have been reported, including two in nursing homes and eight in "other facilities." That's up from three outbreaks in the previous report.

There have been 298 outbreaks since the start of the respiratory season Aug. 27.

A total of 83 new cases of COVID have been confirmed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) lab tests, compared to 82 a week prior.

The actual number of COVID cases is likely higher. The province has restricted PCR tests since April to people with symptoms who have a referral from a primary health-care provider, and for whom the result will directly influence their treatment or care.

The province stopped reporting in September on positive rapid test results submitted by citizens.

The positivity rate — the percentage of PCR lab tests performed that produced a positive result — remains unchanged at seven per cent.

The regional distribution of the new COVID cases:

  • Moncton region, Zone 1 — 28.

  • Saint John region, Zone 2 — 15.

  • Fredericton region, Zone 3 — 20.

  • Edmundston region, Zone 4 — Nine.

  • Campbellton region, Zone 5 — Three.

  • Bathurst region, Zone 6 — Five.

  • Miramichi region, Zone 7 — Three.

About 1,600 more New Brunswickers rolled up their sleeves for the latest COVID vaccine in the past week, according to figures from the Department of Health. A total of 140,267 COVID XBB.1.5 vaccines have been administered since Oct. 4.

Five school 'influenza-like illness' outbreaks

Influenza killed two people between Jan. 21 and Jan. 27, the report shows.

The flu sent 12 people to hospital during the reporting week, nearly a 46 per cent decrease from the 22 people hospitalized the previous week. None of them required intensive care, down from two.

A child under four and two youth under 19 are among those hospitalized. The others include one person aged 45 to 64, and eight people aged 65 or older.

No lab-confirmed flu outbreaks were reported, down from two.

Meanwhile, five schools reported "influenza-like illness" outbreaks, up from one.

School outbreaks are based on 10 per cent absenteeism in a school because of influenza-like illness symptoms, the report says. No other information has been released.

Confirmed COVID-19 and flu cases in New Brunswick by age group, between Aug. 27, 2023 and Jan. 27, 2024.
Confirmed COVID-19 and flu cases in New Brunswick by age group, between Aug. 27, 2023 and Jan. 27, 2024.

Confirmed COVID-19 and flu cases in New Brunswick by age group, between Aug. 27, 2023, and Jan. 27, 2024. (Government of New Brunswick)

Sixty-eight new flu cases were confirmed by lab tests, with a positivity rate of seven per cent. That's down from 94 cases and eight per cent, respectively, in the previous report.

The Fredericton region has the majority of cases, at 19, followed closely by the Moncton region, at 15, the Edmundston region, at 14, and the Saint John region, at 13. The Bathurst region has three cases, while the Edmundston and Miramichi regions each have two.

Of the new cases, 61 were influenza A (unsubtyped), one was influenza A (H1N1)pdm09, and six were influenza B.

Since the respiratory season began on Aug. 27, a total of 2,205 flu cases have now been confirmed.

Nearly 2,400 more New Brunswickers got their flu shot in the past week, according to figures from the Department of Health. A total of 212,435 New Brunswickers have been vaccinated against the flu this season.

CBC has requested an interview with Dr. Yves Léger, the province's acting chief medical officer of health.

Fewer health-care workers positive

Horizon Health Network has 15 health-care workers off the job as of Saturday, after they tested positive for COVID-19, according to its weekly COVID-19 report. That's nearly a 29 per cent decrease from the 21 infected employees absent a week ago.

Horizon also reports fewer active COVID-19 hospitalizations, at 30, compared to 52 a week ago. Three people require intensive care, down from four.

There are still a number of Horizon hospital units with COVID-19 outbreaks. As of Tuesday, these include:

  • Moncton Hospital — cardiac step down, family practice and palliative care.

  • Saint John Regional Hospital — family medicine.

Vitalité Health Network is updating its COVID-19 report only monthly, typically on the last Tuesday of each month.

Although it has been updating its hospital outbreaks page more frequently, the last update showing as of Tuesday afternoon was on Jan. 30, when there was one hospital unit COVID outbreak — on the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre's general surgical unit (4A).