N.B. reports first case of blood-clotting from AstraZeneca vaccine; no new cases of COVID-19

HALIFAX — New Brunswick reported its first case of blood-clotting in a person who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the person is in their 30s and received the vaccine in mid-March, before the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation on March 29 to not give it to anyone younger than 55.

“While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these blood clots are extremely rare,” Russell said. “The vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks associated with COVID-19 infections.”

Russell said that the global frequency of VITT is low and has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine.

The person suffered the adverse reaction in the expected range of five to 21 days after getting the shot.

“This person was treated and has recovered,” Russell said.

This is Canada’s third reported case of the rare blood-clotting reaction to this type of vaccine. It is associated with low platelets and is known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). The other cases were in Montreal and Calgary.

Public health wrote in a news release that it will continue to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to New Brunswickers 55 and older “because the impact of severe illness caused by COVID-19 is considered to be greater than the risk of adverse outcomes of the vaccine.”

NO NEW CASES REPORTED ON TUESDAY

Russell said there are no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. It’s the first that that has happened in more than a month.

Since Monday, 19 people have recovered and there are 139 actives cases in the province. There are 21 people in hospital, including eight in intensive care. There have been 33 COVID-related deaths in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.

On Monday, New Brunswick Public Health staff completed 1,205 COVID tests, raising the total to 277,706 since last March.

Prior to Tuesday, New Brunswick last reported no new COVID-19 cases on March 13.

EDMUNDSTON REGION STILL UNDER LOCKDOWN

A portion of the Edmundston region in the northwestern part of New Brunswick has been under a lockdown for 10 days and has the majority of the active reported cases in the province.

Russell said travel continues to be the biggest factor in the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Travel is riskier now than at any other time during the pandemic,” she said. “If you are going to travel, you must be prepared to properly self-isolate away from your loved ones for an entire two-week period. If you can’t do that, then you really shouldn’t travel.”

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the Atlantic premiers may delay the reopening of the regional travel bubble beyond May 3. The bubble would allow residents of Atlantic Canada to travel freely between the four provinces without having to isolate.

VACCINE UPDATE

Shephard said people 65 and older in New Brunswick can now schedule an appointment for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There will be 19,000 spaces available at clinics over the next two weeks, she added.

Shephard also said that the province has diverted some vaccines to Zone 4 (the Edmundston region) to help combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 where that has been community spread. She said about 40 per cent of the people in Zone 4 are now vaccinated, compared to 28 per cent for the rest of the province.

CALL FOR HEALTH-CARE WORKERS TO HELP ONTARIO

Meanwhile, Shephard said she has issued a call for health-care workers available to respond to a request for help from Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Ontario is hard-hit by a third wave of COVID-19 that is putting its health-care system under tremendous strain.

“We are seeking individuals who have the necessary skills and are able to go to Ontario to assist with their health-care efforts,” Shephard said. “Specifically, Ontario is in need of nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and anesthesia assistants.

“While New Brunswick does not have the available resources within the regional health authorities, any health-care workers who are retired or working outside the health-care system are being encouraged to assist,” the minister said.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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