Nova Scotia has announced three more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 27.
The latest deaths all occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax on Monday. This follows seven deaths at the facility over the weekend.
“I want to tell those families how sorry I am for their loss,” said Premier Stephen McNeil during a news conference in Halifax Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s tough enough at any time but having to deal with this loss at a time of COVID adds extra distance and extra heartaches and on behalf of our province I want to acknowledge your pain and offer our condolences.”
As of Monday, 10 long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia had confirmed cases of COVID-19, involving 218 residents and 95 staff members.
Most of those cases are at Northwood’s Halifax facility. On Tuesday, Northwood reported a total of 270 confirmed cases, with 199 residents and 71 staff members affected by the virus.
Of the province’s 27 COVID-19 deaths, 21 have been at Northwood, and nearly all have been in nursing homes.
Gary MacLeod with Advocates for the Care of the Elderly -- or ACE -- says the situation at Northwood breaks his heart, but it doesn’t surprise him.
“I wake up in the morning, because I’ve been involved in this for so long, thinking, how many deaths are there going to be there today?” said MacLeod.
He believes the government could have done more to protect seniors during the pandemic.
“We’re having a war with this virus and the elderly are definitely casualties of this war,” said MacLeod.
“The ones that have passed away right now are definitely casualties of this COVID war and I just think that maybe some of those deaths could have been prevented if they had of reacted sooner.”
Northwood says all long-term care residents at its Halifax facility are being regularly tested for COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.
“Please be assured that if your loved one tests positive for COVID-19 the family will be contacted by a member of our staff to discuss the test result and the care plan,” said Northwood in a statement on its website.
Nova Scotia reports 15 new cases
Nova Scotia also reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 915.
The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 483 tests on Monday and is operating 24 hours a day.
To date, there have been 26,902 negative test results.
The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Sixty-one per cent of cases are female and 39 per cent are male.
Twelve people are in hospital. Three patients are in intensive care units.
The province says 522 people -- or 57 per cent -- have now recovered from the virus and their cases are considered resolved.
“It’s important that we share that, that good news as well with Nova Scotians,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
“But while we share that, we also don't want people to think that we're completely in the clear.”
There are cases across the province, but most cases have been confirmed in the central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.
“There's some perception that it may be just exclusive to HRM, and while we have more virus activity in HRM, it is the potential for the virus in anywhere in the province,” said Strang. “And if we let down our guard in any one community, there is the potential for the virus to then resurge and put people at risk.”
More information is available in an online map, which breaks down the cases according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s four zones.
All of the province’s 15 new cases were confirmed in the central zone. The western, northern and eastern zones are reporting no additional cases at this time.
Western zone: 54 cases
Central zone: 772 cases
Northern zone: 39 cases
Eastern zone: 50 cases
Most cases in Nova Scotia have been connected to travel or a known case, but there is community spread. As a result, travel has been removed as a requirement for COVID-19 testing.
The province has also expanded the list of symptoms for which it is screening.
Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is asked to take an online questionnaire to determine if they need to call 811 for further assessment:
New or worsening cough
“Anybody who may have COVID symptoms, it’s important that we get you tested as quickly as possible,” said Strang. “Anybody who thinks they may have those symptoms, do the assessment, because we want to test you as part of our ongoing work.”
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days. Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases.
Anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia must also self-isolate for 14 days.
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to May 3. Schools will remain closed until at least May 19.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace