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COVID-19 kills 4 more in N.B. and hospitalizations jump, while most flu indicators drop

A total of 1,333 New Brunswickers have now been hospitalized for or with COVID-19 since the start of the respiratory season on Aug. 27, 89 of whom required intensive care, while the flu has hospitalized 449, with 43 of them admitted to ICU. (Shutterstock / Thaiview - image credit)
A total of 1,333 New Brunswickers have now been hospitalized for or with COVID-19 since the start of the respiratory season on Aug. 27, 89 of whom required intensive care, while the flu has hospitalized 449, with 43 of them admitted to ICU. (Shutterstock / Thaiview - image credit)

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of four more New Brunswickers and weekly hospitalizations have jumped more than 75 per cent, while no new flu deaths, hospitalizations or outbreaks have been reported, figures released by the province Tuesday show.

COVID-19 activity remains "moderate" and influenza activity is "stable," according to the Respiratory Watch report.

The four people who died from COVID between Feb. 18 and Feb. 24 were all aged 65 or older.

Their deaths raise the pandemic death toll to at least 1,017. The actual total is unclear because the province has counted only people who die in hospital as COVID deaths since September.

Thirty people were hospitalized because of COVID or for something else and later tested positive for the virus during the reporting week. That's up from 17 in the previous report.

None of the patients required intensive care, down from two.

Among those hospitalized were four people aged 45 to 64, and 26 people aged 65 or older.

Six lab-confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared, the same number as the previous week. Two are in nursing homes and four are in "other facilities."

Eighty new cases of the virus have been confirmed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) lab tests, up from 79.

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

A total of 1,115 COVID-19 XBB.1.5 vaccines have been administered in the past week, raising the total to 145,915 since Oct. 4, according to figures from the Department of Health.

89 lab-confirmed flu cases

No one was hospitalized because of the flu from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24, down from seven in the previous report.

There were no lab-confirmed flu outbreaks either, down from two.

Pharmacist Shivali Sharma giving a flu shot
Pharmacist Shivali Sharma giving a flu shot

More than 1,000 New Brunswickers rolled up their sleeves to get the flu shot in the past week, according to figures from the Department of Health. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

"Influenza-like illness" outbreaks were reported at two schools, the same number as in the previous report.

School outbreaks are based on 10 per cent absenteeism in a school because of influenza-like illness symptoms, according to the report. No other details are provided.

A total of 89 new cases of the flu were confirmed during the reporting week, up from 85. The positivity rate remains at eight per cent.

Of the new cases, 58 were influenza B and 31 were influenza A (unsubtyped), the report shows.

These raise the respiratory season total to 2,619.

There have been 220,628 New Brunswickers vaccinated against the flu this season, as of Tuesday, up from 219,509 last week, the Department of Health said.

Horizon and Vitalité data

Horizon Health Network reports 18 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, as of Saturday, down from 33, according to its COVID dashboard.

Two of the patients require intensive care, compared to none the previous week.

The number of health-care workers off the job after testing positive for the virus has dropped by more than half to 10, from 23.

There are COVID outbreaks at two Horizon hospitals, as of Tuesday. These include Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, on the orthopedics; ear, nose, throat, and plastics units, and the Charlotte County Hospital in St. Stephen, which has an outbreak on the family medicine unit.

Vitalité Health Network updates its COVID-19 report only monthly, with the next report not expected until March 26.

Its hospital outbreaks page is updated more frequently, however, and shows outbreaks at the Lamèque Hospital's medical unit and at the Grand Falls General Hospital's multipurpose unit, as of Tuesday.