KENNEBECASIS, N.B. — Two men in New Brunswick who recently travelled to the Dominican Republic are facing charges in a bizarre case involving allegations both suspects purposely coughed on neighbours in a rooming house.
Police said they responded to a call Thursday morning from a residence in Rothesay, where an individual had complained that two other people had allegedly failed to isolate themselves after returning home from abroad.
"When we did our investigation, it was revealed that both had coughed on the other individuals in the house," Wayne Gallant, chief of the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force, said Friday. "They've both been charged with (assault)."
The ugly incident came to light as health officials in the Atlantic region reported 51 additional cases of COVID-19.
In Kennebecasis, police Insp. Anika Becker said one of the accused in the Rothesay case doesn't live at the home in question, but his travelling companion does.
Becker said another occupant of the home — a 41-year-old man — had complained about the pair's failure to self isolate, as required by New Brunswick law. That's when the coughing started, Becker said.
Under the province's rules for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who returns to New Brunswick after travelling abroad must self-isolate for 14 days.
The province declared a state of emergency March 19 after Premier Blaine Higgs said too few citizens were following orders to avoid public gatherings.
"If anyone has concerns that someone is not self-isolating properly, they should not take matters in their own hands," Kennebecasis police said in a statement, adding that the province has established a toll-free phone line for people to report non-compliance.
In another incident on Thursday, police in western Newfoundland said a woman had been arrested for a second time after allegedly refusing to stay inside following her return from travel outside the province.
The 53-year-old was arrested in Corner Brook a day after she was released from custody for contravening orders under Newfoundland and Labrador's Public Health Protection and Promotion Act.
She could be fined between $500 and $2,500 or jailed for up to six months.
Meanwhile in Quebec City, police arrested a woman last week who they said had contracted the novel coronavirus and was walking outside after being ordered to stay indoors.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 20 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, which meant the total number of cases stood at 102 — the highest in the Atlantic region.
As well, they said one infected person had been admitted to hospital — a first for the province.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, said 68 cases were linked to exposures at a funeral home in St. John's between March 15 and 17.
Fitzgerald said that cluster represents spread within the community. However, she said the virus was not considered "widespread" in the province because those cases were all linked to one venue.
"This emphasizes the importance and the impact measures like physical distancing can have," she said.
In Nova Scotia, 17 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, increasing the total to 90 confirmed cases. Two people remain in hospital.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said he was aware of reports that the Atlantic Superstore in Bedford, N.S., was closed Friday after an employee tested positive for the virus.
"We do know that the individual at this store was not working at the front lines, not interacting with the public," Strang told a news conference. "There really isn't a significant risk for the public."
Loblaw Atlantic spokesman Mark Boudreau told Global News the store would be cleaned and was expected to reopen Saturday.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced a rent deferral program for small businesses forced to close as a result of the province's state of emergency.
In Prince Edward Island, the province's chief medical officer of health said the province's schools and daycare centres will remained closed until May 11.
The province plans reveal its plans for online learning on Monday.
Dr. Heather Morrison also said all non-essential government services and businesses must remain closed indefinitely.
"This is not over," she told a news conference.
Morrison said visitors headed to the Island, including those who have rented cottages, should postpone their trip unless they know people in P.E.I. who can support them while they are complying with a mandatory 14-day isolation order.
"All unnecessary travel into Prince Edward Island is prohibited," Morrison said, noting that travel deemed essential, including medical appointments and emergencies, is still allowed.
Morrison later confirmed that two new cases of COVID-19 had been reported on Friday. The Island had 11 confirmed cases by late Friday afternoon.
In New Brunswick, health officials announced 12 new cases, bringing the total there to 45.
Chief public health officer Jennifer Russell said 11 of the new cases are travel-related while one is being investigated as a possible case of community transmission.
— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax, with files from Keith Doucette in Halifax, Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John's, N.L., and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020.
The Canadian Press