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N.B. COVID positivity rate hits recent high

By Brad Perry Feb 28, 2023 | 2:21 PM

New Brunswick is reporting a sharp increase in COVID-19 test positivity rates in the province.

The latest weekly COVID report shows there were 363 positive PCR tests between Feb. 19 and 25.

A total of 1,729 PCR tests were conducted over the same period for a positivity rate of 20.99 per cent, the highest since at least late August.

There were also 152 positive self-reported rapid tests for a weekly total of 515, down from 527 the previous week.

The Saint John health region (Zone 2) was the hotspot with 146 new cases, accounting for 28 per cent of the total case count.

The Fredericton health region (Zone 3) recorded just under 28 per cent of the new cases while the Moncton health region (Zone 1) recorded 20 per cent.

Amongst the most recent random samples sequenced, 68 per cent were the BA.5 variant (down from 73 per cent), 28 per cent were XBB (up from 24 per cent) and four per cent were BA.2 (down from three per cent).

COVID death toll climbs to 834

New Brunswick confirmed nine more COVID-related deaths in its latest weekly report, bringing the total to 834.

Public Health said none of the deaths happened during the most recent reporting period.

Three deaths occurred in December, four in January and two in early February, according to a graph from the province.

“Deaths are subject to a lag in reporting,” said the report, noting it takes an average of two months from the date of death and receiving the registration of death form.

The deaths included one person under the age of 50, one person between 50 and 69 years old, and seven people aged 70 and older, according to Public Health.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions

The virus sent 11 more people to the hospital between Feb. 19 and 25, including two to an intensive care unit.

Of those admitted, two people were under the age of 20, one was between 60 and 69 years old, and eight were aged 70 and older.

During the previous week, there were 20 new admissions to the hospital and one to an ICU.

“Since August 28, 2022, the rate of hospitalizations is highest among those aged 70 years and older,” said the weekly report.

Public Health no longer includes information on how many people are currently in the hospital because of COVID-19.

However, the two regional health authorities reported 55 people in the hospital as of Feb. 25 (down from 76 a week earlier) and two in intensive care (down from 10).

  • Horizon Health: 44 active admissions and one in intensive care, compared to 55 active admissions and nine in intensive care one week earlier.
  • Vitalité Health: 11 active admissions and one in intensive care, compared to 21 active admissions and one in intensive care one week earlier.

Unlike the provincial data, which only accounts for those who are admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, the regional health authorities also include the number of patients who are initially admitted for another reason and later test positive for the virus.

Vaccine doses

In terms of vaccinations, the Department of Health says 554 doses were given out over the past week, including 53 first doses, 58 second doses, 97 first booster doses, and 346 second booster doses.

A total of 85.8 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have received two doses, 54.7 per cent have received a booster shot, and 30.2 per cent have received their second booster.

According to the two health authorities, 92 health care workers were off the job for COVID-related reasons as of Saturday, compared to 56 health care workers a week earlier.


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