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N.B. widening COVID-19 red level area in Edmundston region, pausing AstraZeneca clinics for under 55

N.B. widening COVID-19 red level area in Edmundston region, pausing AstraZeneca clinics for under 55 image
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New Brunswick is widening the areas in the Edmundston region that are under its COVID-19 red level amid growing cases.

The province is reporting 11 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, all in the Edmundston region.

Beginning at midnight, Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls will be included in the red level, which is the second highest level in the province.

That means residents must keep a single-household bubble and social gatherings outdoors can only include five people or fewer with masks and physical distancing.

Read more: 4 more COVID-19 cases confirmed at Edmundston, N.B. school; testing capacity increased in area

“Public Health made the recommendation to the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19 and to cabinet to extend the area in which the Red level applies, with the exception of the Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions, based on the confirmed presence of the more contagious variants of COVID-19 along with the possibility of community transmission,” the province said in a news release.

The province notes 3,335 asymptomatic people were screened in the Edmundston region on March 25 and 26, which resulted in three positive tests.

A potential exposure has also been identified at the Sparta Progression Gym at 113 D 44th Ave. on March 22 between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

The 11 new cases are:

  • three people 19 and under. These cases are a contact of a previous case;
  • two people 30-39. Both cases are under investigation;
  • three people 40-49. Two cases are under investigation and one is a contact of a previous case;
  • an individual 50-59. This case is under investigation; and
  • two people 60-69. One case is a contact of a previous case and the other is under investigation.

All the cases are self-isolating.

New Brunswick now has 114 active cases. Four people are in hospital, including two in ICU.

AstraZeneca vaccine clinics postponed

As well, the province is pulling the plug on AstraZeneca vaccination clinics for those under 55, following a National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation.

The province says it will continue to use it for New Brunswickers over the age of 55, “as there have not been any serious effects noted.”

Read more: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not recommended for those under 55, NACI says

“While we have seen no cause for concern, we are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution pending further guidance from Health Canada,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, in the release.

The province points out no serious adverse events have been reported in Canada associated with AstraZeneca or any of the other COVID-19 vaccines.

They say the postponed clinics will be rescheduled.

“(The NACI) made the recommendation following concerns in Europe due to rare cases of people under 55 having blood clots up to 20 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Of the 20 million doses of the vaccine administered in Europe, there have been 25 incidents of this happening or about one in a million,” the province states.

“Given the rarity of serious side effects and the fact that COVID-19 has killed 15,000 Canadians so far, with one in 100 who get COVID-19 requiring intensive care and that one in five Canadians hospitalized with COVID-19 develop blood clots, the risk from the vaccine is very low.”

The province is in the midst of vaccinating 4,500 teachers and school staff. High school clinics for Monday and Tuesday have been postponed and detailed information about rescheduled clinic dates will be sent to school staff.

Click to play video: NACI recommending AstraZeneca vaccine not be used for people under the age of 55
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