HALIFAX -- The number of cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Nova Scotia, specifically at a Halifax long-term care facility.

“We have 151 total facility cases, which is 36 new cases. In that total include 111 resident impacts,” said Janet Simm, Northwood CEO.

To date, there have been five COVID-19 related deaths at Northwood.

“I would like to express my sincere, sincere condolences to families of those residents who recently died from COVID-19 or other complications,” said Simm.

As a result of the outbreak, Northwood has implemented an emergency plan, part of which will see residents who have recovered from COVID-19 moved out of the facility and into a local hotel.

Northwood is also swabbing every resident and staff member for the virus and hiring more employees as part of a pandemic relief teams.

“We are hiring people that are laid off from their jobs,” said Josie Ryan, the executive director of long term care at Northwood. “We had 50 people that applied for those pandemic relief teams and they could be anything from janitorial to dietary to long term care aides.”

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, says he expects to see more cases at Northwood, as they broaden testing.

“First of all, testing everybody in that facility that has not been tested and continue to do repeat testing for people who have been tested but are negative,” Strang said of the testing strategy.

“We know that the virus has spread broadly throughout Northwood. We fully expect as we expand this testing, we’re going to get more positives.”

According to health officials, as of April 19, there were nine licensed long term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19.

The Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association says there is one major issue that nursing homes in the province are facing.               

“I think the biggest thing that we’re faced with right now are staffing issues,” said managing director Michele Lowe.

The association represents 85 per cent of nursing homes in Nova Scotia. Lowe says when one staff member at a long-term-care facility tests positive for COVID-19, it can impact up to 70 per cent of that facility's staff.

Lowe says everyone needs to pull together to help support nursing homes in Nova Scotia.

“We know that there are clinicians in this province who are unable to work right now because of day surgeries or clinics that have been closed down or suspended within the acute care setting,” she said. “We really need to be able to activate and deploy and bring those individuals into all of the nursing homes.”