Some public health restrictions should return in N.B. until children can be vaccinated: Ottawa epidemiologist

An Ottawa-based epidemiologist says some public health measures should return to New Brunswick in order to protect kids under 12 who cannot get vaccinated.

And they should remain in place for as long as they can.

“Vaccination will be available for the under 12 at some point in the next few months, probably, most likely,” said Dr. Raywat Deonandan.

“When that happens, we’ll have a really good shot at having the herd immunity conversation then. So I don’t know what the big rush is to risk infection of this population until this possibility.”

He said the impacts are being seen in places like Florida and Louisiana, where pediatric hospitals are full.

New Brunswick lifted all restrictions at midnight on July 30. Since then, the province has seen over 400 cases, though only three have been hospitalized.

The epidemiologist says it’s the Delta variant that has changed a lot of how he thinks about public health measures and the future of the pandemic.

Deonandan says masking in indoor public spaces and border restrictions – including requiring people to be fully vaccinated in order not to have to isolate – should return to the province.

“Closing the borders is probably not required anymore now that we have vaccination and the ability to monitor who gets through the borders in terms of vaccination and immunity status,” he said.

“Masking, I think, has to be our number one priority, in addition to vaccination, because masking is easy. It’s a proven technology, it’s cheap, (and) it works really, really well.”

Some New Brunswick politicians have called for the return of certain restrictions.

Green Party leader David Coon has said with the increased case numbers seen in Western Canada, he’d like to see isolation requirements for unvaccinated visitors coming to New Brunswick.

Deonandan says there will be an argument in the future on lowering public health defences, but it’s not the time yet.

“It strikes me that some jurisdictions might be jumping the gun and letting it happen early,” he said.


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