COVID-19 restrictions extended in Halifax and Hants; N.S. ramps up asymptomatic testing
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia has extended the pandemic restrictions in areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County for at least one more week.
"This means that bars and restaurants will remain closed, fitness facilities, gyms, studios, etc will also remain closed retail operations will remain at the 25% of legal capacity," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical office of health.
Strang noted that Nova Scotia is still reporting daily cases in the double digits, including another 15 on Friday.
"Modelling projects that this will continue for several more days," Strang said during a news conference in Halifax on Friday. "So we need more time with the existing restrictions in place to see these numbers come down and to be certain they will stay down."
The restrictions will remain in place until at least Dec. 16.
A decision on whether to continue with restrictions that saw Atlantic Canada's largest city close down in-person dining at restaurants as well as close public libraries, museums, gyms and casinos, was to be made next Wednesday. Strang said that's now been moved to Dec. 16.
He said he couldn't make any promises about what the situation will look like then.
"What I can tell you is that the more we buckle down and stay tight right now . . . the better position we will be in to have some slight relaxation as we enter the holiday weeks before January starts."
MORE TESTING FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT SYMPTOMS
The province also launched a period of asymptomatic testing across the province to limit the potential spread of the virus by detecting positive cases in people who do not have symptoms.
"For the past week, we have had double-digit case numbers daily and most of them are in the areas where we added restrictions last week. These restrictions are important to help us slow the spread of COVID-19," said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. "We have also ramped up testing significantly as a key measure in containing the virus. Adding more opportunities for asymptomatic testing is another way of enhancing our testing strategy."
McNeil said that in the last two weeks, public health has conducted more than 7,000 rapid tests and these have helped flag 22 potential cases of COVID-19 from people who had no symptoms.
"Without everyone's hard work to run these clinics, and without all of you coming forward to be tested, we would not be able to track COVID as quickly," McNeil said.
MAKING PLANS FOR THE VACCINE
Nova Scotia has one freezer in place for the storage of the vaccine with another being supplied by the federal government.
Strang detailed how the initial distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will work.
"So, the priority groups are long-term care residents and staff, frontline health-care workers who are at highest risk through providing direct care to COVID patients, and older adults," Strang said.
15 NEW CASES REPORTED
Health officials in Nova Scotia reported 15 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. With 17 more cases resolved, the number of active cases has dropped to 117.
Eleven of the new cases are located in Nova Scotia's Central Zone. This includes a case connected to Halifax's Citadel High School, which was first reported late Thursday.
Three cases are in the Northern Zone and are close contacts of previously reported cases.
The other case is in the Western Zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
CASE AT PARK WEST SCHOOL
Nova Scotia Health says a positive case has also been identified at Park West School, a primary to Grade 9 school in Halifax.
The person did not attend school on Friday and is self-isolating.
The school will remain closed to students until Dec. 10 so a deep cleaning can take place. Students will study from home in the meantime.
Nova Scotia health says, as a precautionary measure, the school’s offsite pre-primary location will also be closed until Dec. 10. Students and families can expect an update on Wednesday.
Public health will notify any close contacts of the person who tested positive. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and required to self-isolate for 14 days.
NEW TESTING FOR ROTATIONAL WORKERS
Strang said the province has added voluntary testing for rotational workers who are not showing symptoms.
Rotational workers can book an appointment through the COVID-19 self-assessment on Day 6, 7, or 8 of their modified self-isolation.
"This will not change any of the restrictions, but it does offer a level of reassurance if they don't have COVID, and if they do, it will help us contain the virus quicker," said Strang.
NOVA SCOTIA COVID-19 TESTS
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,623 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has conducted 73,254 tests. There have been 269 positive COVID-19 cases. Of those, 152 cases are considered resolved, leaving 117 active cases.
There have been no deaths during the second wave and no one is in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70.
Since the start of the pandemic, Nova Scotia has conducted a total of 196,425 tests, with 1,358 positive cases confirmed overall. Of those, 1,176 cases are considered resolved and 65 people have died.
The province's overall confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Fifty seven per cent of cases are female and 43 per cent are male.
There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.
The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.
- Western Zone: 63 cases
- Central Zone: 1,154 cases
- Northern Zone: 86 cases
- Eastern Zone: 55 cases
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Dec. 13.
COVID ALERT APP
Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.
The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
LIST OF SYMPTOMS
Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose/nasal congestion
With files from The Canadian Press.