HALIFAX -- As the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low in Nova Scotia, day surgeries are set to resume in the province next week.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced Wednesday that the IWK Health Centre and Nova Scotia Health Authority will resume day surgeries and short-stay surgeries and clinics, starting Monday.

“This is a good start,” said McNeil during a news conference in Halifax.

“For those of you that had appointments booked, it is our collective hope that you will have them rescheduled in the very near future.”

McNeil said Health Minister Randy Delorey and his department will continue working with provincial health partners to gradually open up the health-care system.

Another death at Northwood

The province also announced Wednesday that another resident at Halifax’s Northwood long-term care facility has died from COVID-19.

Fifty-seven people have now died from the virus in Nova Scotia and 51 of those deaths have been at Northwood.

“On behalf of all Nova Scotians I want to offer my condolences to the family of the loved one who passed away at Northwood yesterday,” said McNeil.

Northwood -- the largest long-term care facility east of Montreal -- has seen the most significant outbreak of the virus in the province.

As of Wednesday, the facility was reporting a total of 341 confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving 244 residents and 97 staff members, though most have now recovered from the virus. 

1 new case of COVID-19

Nova Scotia also reported one new case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 1,045.

This is the second day in a row that Nova Scotia has announced one death and one new case of the virus.

Nova Scotia has seen a steady decline of new cases and a significant increase in recoveries since the beginning of the month, with the province reporting new cases in the single digits since May 5. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang confirmed the latest case is linked to Northwood.

“For the first time, we are reporting no new cases outside of Northwood for two days in a row,” said Strang.

“That’s good news. We’re continuing our good progress, but we still need to continue to watch that epidemiology unfold over the coming days.”

The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 353 tests on Tuesday.

To date, Nova Scotia has 36,656 negative test results.

32 active cases in Nova Scotia

Of the 1,045 cases, 956 people have recovered from the virus and their cases are considered resolved.

This leaves 32 active cases in the province and 23 of those cases are linked to long-term care homes.

Northwood currently has 19 residents and three staff members with active cases of COVID-19.

One other facility has one resident with an active case of the virus.

This leaves nine active cases outside of long-term care homes.

There are eight people in hospital and four of those patients are in intensive care units.

What we know about the confirmed cases

The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Sixty-two per cent of cases are female and 38 per cent are male.

The latest case was confirmed in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s central zone, which has seen the largest number of COVID-19 cases.

The western, northern and eastern zones are seeing no additional cases at this time.

  • Western zone: 54 cases
  • Central zone: 896 cases
  • Northern zone: 44 cases
  • Eastern zone: 51 cases

Nova Scotia COVID map May 20

Nova Scotia’s ‘new normal’

Strang provided some insight Wednesday as to what Nova Scotia’s “new normal” will look like over the next few months.

He said it’s important to note that, while the first wave of COVID-19 is coming to an end, the pandemic isn’t over, and Nova Scotians will need to continue practising some of the measures that prevent the spread of the virus.

“I know people are really anxious and would love things to get back to what they were prior to COVID-19, but until we have high levels of immunity in the population, we have to stay vigilant in fighting this virus,” he said.

“We have to find a new way and adapt to this new normal, which really, we need to think about how we live with COVID-19.”

Strang said residents should continue to practise good hygiene, especially hand-washing, as well as proper cough and sneeze etiquette.

He also said Nova Scotians may need to continue practise physical-distancing on some level, such as avoiding gathering in large groups and keeping distance from others when in public, and may also need to limit non-essential travel.

“These measures will need to be in place for the months ahead as we enter into recovery, but it is part of how we live with COVID,” said Strang.

“We need to continue to make choices that limit the opportunity for the virus to spread. That is part of our new normal.”

Strang said wearing a non-medical face mask may also become part of the daily routine.

He noted there has lots of debate around masks, but said the evidence has evolved and now shows that face masks can reduce the spread of the virus, when worn properly.

He said some stores and businesses may require customers and clients to wear face masks, moving forward.

Symptoms and self-isolation

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who travels outside Nova Scotia must also self-isolate for two weeks.

Nova Scotians who experience two or more of the following symptoms should take an online questionnaire to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment:

  • Fever
  • New or worsening cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache

The provincial state of emergency has been extended to May 31, though the province has eased a number of restrictions in recent weeks.