More than 6,200 children aged five to 11 have been signed up to receive their first dose of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said she’s “thrilled” with the number of parents and guardians who booked appointments since online registration for the Horizon and Vitalité community clinics opened Tuesday around noon. “We’re now booking into December,” she told reporters Wednesday. The province will increase the number of clinics available now that it’s “getting a grasp of how quickly this could go,” Shephard said. Talks are scheduled with pharmacists Wednesday and physicians Thursday, she said. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to keep up with the pace that has just been set.” About 54,500 children are eligible to receive the vaccine, approved last Friday by Health Canada for children aged five to 11. New Brunswick children who will turn five by Dec. 31, 2021, are also eligible. “This is an important step forward in reducing the spread of the virus and protecting all New Brunswickers,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement. A total of 87.6 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older are now fully vaccinated, up from 87.5 per cent, and 93.5 per cent have received their first dose, up from 93.4. The province’s goal is to get at least 90 per cent of the total population double-dosed. According to the CBC vaccine tracker, 77.2 per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated and 82.4 per cent have received one dose. 692 active cases Public Health reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 60 more recoveries, putting the province’s active case count at 692, up from 665. Forty-five people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 11 who contracted the virus while hospitalized for other reasons because of outbreaks on three units of the Moncton Hospital, according to a news release. Nineteen people are in intensive care, an increase of one. No one under 19 is hospitalized. The 87 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed Wednesday are spread across five of the province’s seven health zones. (CBC News) The breakdown of the new cases includes: Moncton region, Zone 1 — 19 cases: Six people 19 or under Two people 20-29 Four people 30-39 Two people 40-49 A person 50-59 Two people 60-69 Two people 70-79 Seventeen of these cases are under investigation and the other two are contacts of previously confirmed cases. Saint John region, Zone 2 — 29 cases: 10 people 19 or under Five people 20-29 Two people 30-39 Four people 40-49 Two people 50-59 Five people 60-69 A person 80-89 Twenty-two of these cases are under investigation and seven are contacts of previously confirmed cases. Fredericton region, Zone 3 — 20 cases: Six people 19 or under A person 20-29 Three people 30-39 Three people 40-49 Four people 50-59 A person 60-69 Two people 70-79 Seventeen of these cases are under investigation and three are contacts of previously confirmed cases. Bathurst region, Zone 6 — two cases: A person 20-29 A person 50-59 One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and the other is under investigation. Miramichi region, Zone 7 — 17 cases: Four people 19 or under Three people 20-29 A person 30-39 Five people 40-49 A person 50-59 Three people 60-69 Nine of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and eight cases are under investigation. A total of 550,858 COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date, including 1,821 on Tuesday. New Brunswick has had 7,893 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 7,077 recoveries so far and 123 COVID-related deaths. Moncton zoo plans to vaccinate animals Zoo animals could be the next eligible group in New Brunswick to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton hopes to vaccinate some of its animals once the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approves the importation of a vaccine for them from the United States. COVID-19 can be transferred to animals from humans, said director Jill Marvin. She said it’s rare, but there have been cases involving zoo animals. Tigers, lions and other big cats have been deemed some of the most susceptible animals to COVID-19. (Julie-Anne LaPointe/Radio-Canada) “They develop respiratory symptoms similar to what a human would,” said Marvin. Earlier this month, three snow leopards died at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, in Nebraska, of complications from COVID-19. Research has shown some animals are more susceptible to the virus than others, including most of the big cats, she said, and Magnetic Hill has eight of them. Other susceptible species include otters, white-tailed deer and great apes. The zoo’s animal care and welfare group, along with its veterinarian, is reviewing the list of species and assessing the risk of its individual animals to determine which would be the best candidates for vaccination, she said. The Magnetic Hill Zoo has already been in contact with the vaccine manufacturer to have doses set aside, said director Jill Marvin. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News ) “If I take a look at our older leopard, she’s an older animal and she has some struggles that go along with her age. Doing a couple anesthesias on her might be a greater risk than the risk of her contracting COVID, especially since our exhibits are well set up — we keep the people at a distance.” The zoo also requires staff and visitors to be vaccinated and masked, which helps protect the animals from infection. Some animals might not have to be anesthetized to be vaccinated, noted Marvin. The risks and benefits will be weighed in each case. 60 cases at prison Fifty-four inmates and six staff members at Dorchester Penitentiary’s medium-security unit have now tested positive for COVID-19, according to Correctional Services Canada. One case is not related to the outbreak declared last Friday, regional manager of communications Shelley Lawrence said in an emailed statement, without elaborating. “We are closely monitoring the situation, testing broadly, and diligently applying infection prevention and control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the institution,” she said. The outbreak is currently contained to the medium-security unit, which is rated to house 397 male inmates, according to the CSC’s website. The minimum-security unit is rated to house 302 inmates. 3 cases at Ridgewood Veterans Wing The latest round of COVID-19 testing at Ridgewood Veterans Health Wing in Saint John detected no new cases, the Horizon Health Network said Wednesday. Tests were conducted Monday and Tuesday and all results were negative, said spokesperson Kris McDavid. An outbreak at the facility for veterans who require long-term care was declared last Friday after two positive cases involving staff members were confirmed. A third staff member subsequently tested positive, he said. Seventy-six veterans live at Ridgewood. They have not received their third COVID-19 vaccine dose yet. “Third doses can be administered to residents living in communal living settings at a minimum of a five-month interval,” said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane. “It is our understanding that the majority of boosters for the residents of this Horizon Health Network operated facility are due the first week of December,” he said in an emailed statement. Saint John rooming house outbreak stands at 4 cases Some residents of a Saint John rooming house where there’s a COVID-19 outbreak have been released from isolation after the latest tests found no new cases. There are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Lantern House on Princess Street in the city’s uptown. Test results came back negative Tuesday, said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane, “which in turn, released many of the residents from isolation due to their fully vaccinated status.” Another round of testing is scheduled for later this week, he said. Public Health declared the outbreak on Monday. Members of the provincial rapid outbreak management team, also known as PROMT, are on site. New cases at 6 schools, 1 child-care facility Seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at six schools since Tuesday, the COVID-19 dashboard shows. A positive case or cases have been identified at Petitcodiac Regional School in the Moncton region, Zone 1, New Maryland Elementary School in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, and Napan Elementary School in the Miramichi region, Zone 7, which were not previously impacted. A positive case or cases have also been identified at Northrop Frye School and Riverview High School, both in the Moncton region, Zone 1, and Townsview School, in the Fredericton region, Zone 3. Twenty-eight schools are currently impacted. Students returned to in-person classes just over a week ago after the provincial government reached a tentative agreement with striking Canadian Union of Public Employees. A total of 481 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at 136 schools since the beginning of the school year. A case of COVID-19 has also been confirmed at New Maryland Kidz Klub in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, Public Health said in a news release. People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case will be notified directly by Public Health or the child-care facility for contact tracing, it said. Eighty-seven early learning and child-care facilities have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Sept. 7. The number of cases has not been disclosed. Public exposure notices Public Health posted a number of new public exposure notices Wednesday, including an emergency department waiting room in the Moncton region, Zone 1, and a restaurant in the Saint John region, Zone 2. For the full list of new and previous public exposure notices, please visit the provincial government’s website. People who have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure and who have symptoms should get a COVID lab test. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811 and must isolate while waiting for their test result. People who are not fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms are now being instructed to pick up an At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Point of Care Test (Rapid POCT) screening kit. They do not need to isolate if they have not been directed by Public Health to do so. All positive point-of-care test results must be confirmed with a laboratory polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test. It can take up to 14 days to test positive after being exposed to COVID-19, so even if results come back negative, people should continue to self-monitor for any symptoms and get tested immediately if any develop. They should also avoid visiting settings with vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes, correctional facilities and shelters during that 14-day period. For people who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to a possible exposure, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the possible exposure and get a COVID lab test if symptoms develop. They do not need to isolate while they wait for their test results. If they do not have symptoms, they can pick up a rapid test kit and do not need to isolate. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.