FREDERICTON, N.B. — By John Chilibeck
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Gleaner
New Brunswick’s acting chief medical health officer was so concerned with the rise of respiratory viruses earlier this month he held a news conference — the first he’d hosted in months.
At the Jan. 9 presser, Dr. Yves Léger stressed the importance of flu and COVID vaccinations and to follow safe hygiene practices given the rise of RSV and Strep-A infections.
That week alone, five people in the province died from influenza and COVID, and six preschool children needed hospital treatment for the viruses, according to the province.
In the period just before that, between Dec. 10 and 30, a total of 26 New Brunswickers died from respiratory viruses, including a child under five.
And yet, a Jan. 12 letter Léger addressed to families of school communities talking about the steps people could take to safeguard themselves and others didn’t immediately go out to all schools.
The provincial government sent the letter to the school districts, which were responsible for distributing them. Some schools didn’t send them to parents right away.
École Sainte-Anne in Fredericton, for instance, sent the letter to parents Jan. 18 – six days after Léger had issued it. The school is part of Francophone South School District.
Likewise, Anglophone South School District reported that four of its schools sent the notice out late, while Anglophone North School District told Brunswick News it inadvertently sent the notice out to all its parents on Jan. 18, due to a technical problem.
Brunswick News asked the Health Department last week why the notice did not go to all parents promptly and at the same time, given it was based on the advice of the chief medical health officer, who has a duty to