FREDERICTON — New Brunswick has a second case of COVID-19 and health officials say it's connected to another case that was confirmed earlier this week.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the presumptive case is a man between 50 and 60 years of age in the southeastern part of the province.
"This individual is already self-isolated and Public Health officials have already taken swift action to implement immediate precautions to prevent the infection from spreading," Russell said at a news conference in Fredericton Saturday morning.
She said the man had been identified as a close contact of the province's first confirmed case — a woman between the ages of 50 and 60 who had recently travelled from France.
"We're not surprised by that. We were actually expecting that," Russell said.
"If we get any new cases, I expect it would be either another travel-related case or somebody in very, very close contact with that person. By close contact, it's usually a household family member," she said.
Diagnostic testing was conducted at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre’s laboratory in Moncton which confirmed the case as presumptive. Additional testing to confirm the case as a positive COVID-19 case will take place at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
Russell said both people have mild to moderate symptoms and are self-isolating at home.
Officials won't name the community where the cases are located, or say if the two people are related, citing privacy issues.
The New Brunswick government announced late Friday it is closing all public schools in the province for two weeks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The government said an all-party cabinet committee made the decision that is to go into effect on Monday, and the closure will be reassessed on an ongoing basis.
The government says early learning and child-care facilities, including those located in schools, are not being closed.
The province is asking anyone who has travelled internationally on or after March 9 to avoid early learning and childcare centres for 14 days.
On Thursday, Russell recommended that all non-essential gatherings of 150 people or more be cancelled or postponed until health officials are better able to determine the risk to people.
The four political parties in the New Brunswick legislature set aside their partisan differences Friday to allow the government to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
They voted to pass the provincial budget to allow the minority Tory government to survive a confidence vote, and make funds available for the health care system.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2020.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press