New Brunswick Tribune

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The government’s pandemic response is being questioned by NB opposition parties

Opposition parties in New Brunswick are raising concerns about the government's pandemic response.

Key takeaways:

  • The province of New Brunswick’s record-breaking COVID-19 case counts are sparking much political debate about how the province is dealing with the fourth wave.

New Brunswick’s record-breaking COVID-19 case counts are causing a lot of political debate about how the province is handling the fourth wave.

The province has recorded 317 new COVID-19 cases in the last two days, with 109 cases on average over the last week. One-third of the cases reported on Friday involved children under 19. Sixty-one people were found in the Fredericton area. Since the pandemic began, there have been 971 active cases in New Brunswick, with 139 deaths.

However, the Department of Public Health claims that no new restrictions are required.

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Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the government’s response to the criticism focuses on how the healthcare system is performing, such as hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

“Do people know how to defend themselves?” Reduce the number of contacts you wear, reduce the size of your inner circles, and get vaccinated. Our primary defense against hospitalization, ICU admission, and death is this.”

New Brunswickers, according to Shephard and Premier Blaine Higgs, “know what they need to do to protect themselves.”

“I believe it’s New Brunswick deciding that we want to live here,” Higgs told reporters on Thursday. “I don’t believe people are in any kind of predicament right now… that they’d accept previous lockdowns or shutdowns because they’d say, “Look, we’re 80 to 95 % vaccinated, so what’s the point?”

Those explanations, however, haven’t calmed Green Party leader David Coon’s nerves.

“It appears that the government has taken the position that Public Health will no longer intervene, that we will have to live with COVID, and this is the reality we face,” he said on Friday. “So, the government declared victory in the summer, and now they are declaring defeat.”

In August, the number of cases began to rise, almost as soon as experts started warning about the fourth wave and the Delta variant. All restrictions in the province had been lifted by that time.

The province reinstated mandatory masks on September 20 in the wake of record-breaking case counts and deaths.

MLA Dorothy Shephard says unfit parents allowed to fail too often | CBC News
Opposition parties in NB are raising concerns about the govt’s pandemic response. Image from CBC News

Since the restrictions were lifted in July, more than half of the deaths in New Brunswick have been reported.

On October 5, ‘circuit breakers’ were introduced in Zone 1, with several other zones or parts following suit later.

New Brunswickers, according to Coon, are feeling abandoned because of the timeline and lack of action.

“They haven’t received any communication from the Public Health officials they employ,” he explained.

He claims that messages from the health minister and the province’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell, essentially tell New Brunswickers that they are on their own.

“People want to hear what Public Health is thinking straight from the source,” he said. “It’s all nonsense.”

Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson, who introduced a motion calling for an independent review of the government’s response to the pandemic, believes the government is at a loss for ideas.

“I believe they have to consider all options,” he said, referring to tighter restrictions or another lockdown.

However, with the holiday season approaching, the province has indicated that no health zones will be moved to the second or third levels of the Winter Action Plan.

The province has removed the “community transmission” classification from the COVID-19 dashboard, but Shephard confirmed that the infection was spreading despite the lack of confirmation on the source of the infection.

She stated, “Contact tracing is being managed.” “We probably won’t be able to make contract tracing for all of the cases, and we don’t even know where some of them came from,” says the investigator.

Source: Global News

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