Second New Brunswicker dies from blood-clot disorder caused by AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

FREDERICTON — A second New Brunswicker has died from a blood clot disorder associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The person, who was in their 50s, received the vaccine on April 11 and went to hospital 17 days later. They were previously reported as hospitalized.

“The risks associated with this vaccine are rare, but they’re real as we’ve seen today,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday afternoon during a news conference.

This is the second death caused by Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) reported in New Brunswick.

“On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I extend heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of this person,” said New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “While this death is truly tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying from COVID-19 are far greater than the risks associated with receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. I encourage everyone who is eligible to listen to the advice of Public Health and get vaccinated.”

Dr. Russell says she’s not aware of any other cases associated with AstraZeneca that are being investigated.

15 NEW CASES REPORTED

New Brunswick reported 15 new cases of COVID-19, including three outside the province. There are now 127 active cases in New Brunswick, including 17 New Brunswickers who are outside the province.

Here is a breakdown of the new cases:

  • one case in Zone 1 (Moncton region) which is under investigation;
  • nine cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) including five cases that are contacts of previously confirmed cases, three that are travel related and one that is under investigation;
  • four travel-related cases in Zone 6 (Bathurst region); and,
  • one case in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) is a person in their 20s. This case is a contact of a previously confirmed case.

Five people have recovered since Thursday and the number of active cases is 127.

There have been 43 COVID-19 related deaths since the pandemic began.

Seven New Brunswickers are hospitalized in total, with six of them in hospital in New Brunswick — including two in an intensive care unit. The person hospitalized out of the province is in intensive care.

On Thursday, New Brunswick public health staff conducted 1,611 tests, raising the total since the pandemic began to 321,482.

NEW BRUNSWICK PASSES 50 PER CENT MARK FOR VACCINATIONS

New Brunswick passed a milestone in its vaccination program this week.

“As of (Friday), more than 52 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Shephard. “We can all be proud of the progress we have made so far, but we must continue to focus on making sure as much of our population as possible is fully vaccinated before we can let down our guard.”

New Brunswick set a single day record in its vaccine rollout on Thursday with more than 13,700 doses administered.

CONFIRMED CASE AT DAY CARE IN FREDERICTON

The province says there is a positive case of COVID-19 at Kids Korral Day Care in Fredericton.

The case was confirmed on Thursday and affected families have been notified.

“Public Health has directed that the children and staff, and their families, self-isolate for 72 hours while contract tracing is carried out,” public health wrote in a news release.

The facility was closed on Friday and families will be contacted directly over the weekend to be given more information.

“If you or a family member have been in close contact with a case, you will be notified by Public Health,” public health wrote in the release. “If you do not hear directly from Public Health, you have not been identified as a close contact.”

UPDATE ON FREDERICTON AREA IN ZONE 3

Public health says it is closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Fredericton area and far contract tracing has been able to establish links between almost all of the confirmed cases in this cluster.

“As of now we are keeping Zone 3 at the Yellow alert level,” said Russell. “We have not imposed stricter measures because of how the virus is spreading, and not spreading, in the Fredericton area.”

Russell participated in the COVID-19 update from home because students and staff of a school community in Fredericton region have been asked to isolate — and she was affected.

 

There have been a total of 45 cases linked to the Delta Hotel in Fredericton, which until recently had been used as an isolation hotel. Twelve of the cases are directly related to the hotel, while 33 people are listed as contacts or indirect contacts.

Officials believe transmission of the COVID-19 B.1.617 variant first reported in India, at the Delta and recently at Magee House residence at the University of New Brunswick, was a result of touching surfaces such as doorknobs.

Russell said Friday that doesn’t change the public health advice for protecting against infection.

“There’s not really a change in the different ways that we know that COVID can be transmitted, but I think what’s different with the variants is that it’s just exaggerated,” she said. “What we’re seeing is more transmission, so more close contacts are getting infected within households. If people have been in a certain area, not necessarily at the same time, and touched surfaces or been in a space where somebody else with COVID was, we saw transmission that way.”

She said protective measures that worked before the variants emerged, such as hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces, using alcohol sanitizer, maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask, remain very important. “I think we have to be more aware of those types of things and be more conscientious of them,” she said.

ASTRAZENECA SECOND DOSES NOW AVAILABLE

The province announced Friday that people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose at least eight weeks ago, and are 55 or older, are now eligible to receive a second dose.

“This is to be done with the informed consent of each eligible person,” the province wrote in its news release. “There is currently a limited supply of AstraZeneca vaccine. To receive a second dose, schedule an appointment online at a clinic offered through the Vitalité or Horizon health networks or contact a participating pharmacy.”

New Brunswick has 3,500 doses of AstraZeneca left which will expire on May 31.

“AstraZeneca is one of the vaccines we are using in Canada to fight COVID-19,” said Russell. “Because we know some people prefer it to one of the MRNA vaccines, we want to provide it as an option. For those who received the first dose of AstraZeneca but do not want AstraZeneca as a second dose, we expect to receive direction from the federal government soon on using another brand of vaccine as a booster.”

PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES STILL IN PLACE FOR HOLIDAY WEEKEND

Public Health reminded New Brunswickers to have a safe Victoria Day weekend.

“Everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines, even those who have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine,” public health wrote in a news release. “Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep practising physical distancing. Keep your contacts to a minimum and celebrate within your Steady 15.”

Public health said anyone who is sick, or has any COVID-19 symptoms – even one mild symptom — should not participate in gatherings.

Anything with symptoms should go online to arrange to get tested, or call 811.

“It is imperative that everyone continue to follow the guidance of Public Health and to get tested when needed,” said Russell. “New Brunswick has been a leader in our response to this pandemic because we have worked together, and we have been vigilant. I encourage everyone to continue to be vigilant, to take the steps necessary to stay healthy and safe, and to get vaccinated when you are eligible.”

EXPOSURE NOTIFICATIONS

Public Health has identified potential public exposures to the virus at the following locations:

  • Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton;
  • Sunday, May 9, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Residence Administration Building UNB, 20 Bailey Dr., Fredericton;
  • Tuesday, May 11, and Wednesday, May 12, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Riverbend Golf Club, 541 Route 628, Durham Bridge;
  • Saturday, May 15, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Penniac Ultramar, 22 Route 628;
  • Saturday, May 15, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton;
  • Sunday, May 16, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
  • Scholten’s, 325 Sunset Dr., Fredericton;
  • Monday, May 17, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Tim Hortons, 54 Canada St., Saint-Quentin;
  • Sunday, May 16, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Tim Hortons, 1420 Vanier Blvd., Bathurst;
  • Sunday, May 16, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Kingsway Restaurant, 367 King George Hwy., Miramichi;
  • Saturday, May 8, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Public Health offers COVID-19 testing for all New Brunswickers who have been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 to get an appointment at the nearest screening centre.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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