N.S. confirms two more cases of U.K. variant of COVID-19
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia Public Health confirmed on Wednesday evening that there are two more cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 in the province – raising the total to three.
After the cases were initially reported in the Central Zone last month, public health staff sent samples for variant testing to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
"The initial investigation did not determine a source for the infections but it now has been reopened," the province said in a news release. "The two cases and their close contacts will be reinterviewed."
Both people have self-isolated and recovered, but the province is not taking any chances.
"With this new information we are being cautious. We are asking the people connected to these cases to get retested and NSHA will reissue the potential exposure notice for the two cases," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "Our strategy of testing, identifying cases and moving quickly when needed is working to keep our active cases low."
Nova Scotia has also previously confirmed a case of the South African variant, which was tested in December.
Nova Scotia Health is asking anyone who was present at two previously announced exposure sites to self-isolate and get tested immediately, even if they have already been tested.
REISSUE OF PREVIOUSLY REPORTED EXPOSURE
Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should self-isolate immediately and visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms and even if they have already gotten tested.
Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result.
- Atlantic Photo Supply Halifax (6111 Pepperell St, Halifax)
Jan. 20 between noon and 1:30 p.m.
- HomeSense Bayers Lake (9 Washmill Lake Ct, Halifax)
- Jan. 23 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Also, anyone who visited the store the evening of Jan. 22 should get tested.
ONE NEW CASE CONFIRMED
Health officials in Nova Scotia identified one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with the total number of active cases remaining at nine.
Wednesday's new case was identified in the province's Central zone and is related to a previously reported case. The person is self-isolating as required.
"I am proud of the work Nova Scotians are doing to keep our case numbers low," said Premier Stephen McNeil in a news release. "We know the virus is always looking for a chance to spread. Nova Scotians are shutting down those opportunities and I thank everyone for following the public health measures that are in place and protecting each other."
One of the previously reported cases in the province is now considered resolved.
"It is not by accident that COVID-19 activity across our province is low. Our comprehensive approach of quarantining, testing, follow-up of cases and the efforts of every Nova Scotian is keeping us safe," said Dr Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health in a news release. "We know how quickly that can change. Now is not the time to let our guard down. Continue to wear a mask, limit social contacts, practise social distancing, adhere to the gathering limit, stay home if you feel unwell and wash your hands."
POTENTIAL FOR TESTING TO BEGIN AT REGION'S LARGEST AIRPORT
As the second wave of the pandemic lingers on, the region’s largest airport continues to struggle.
"Seventy per cent of all businesses in the terminal building remain closed at this time and they have been for a number of months, just simply due to lack of passenger demand,” said Tiffany Chase, spokesperson for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport Authority.
The airport authority was down $70 million in revenue last year compared to 2019.
"We have to remain open 24/7 to continue to facilitate essential travel and cargo, as well as medevac flights. We don't have the option to close and yet we don't have revenue coming in. So, there's very few levers we can pull and we're essentially borrowing to keep us going throughout this crisis,” said Chase.
The province’s top doctor says they’re actively looking at the idea of testing people for COVID-19 at the airport.
"We're going to find a time as soon as we can and sit down with the airport and the private company, the lab that they're working with, to start to explore in detail what they're proposal might look like,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.
"As an industry, we absolutely support the idea of testing at airports including here at Halifax Stanfield. We have submitted a proposal to the province to talk about how it could work here at our facility,” added Chase.
Testing travelers at the airport is something PC leader Tim Houston has been calling for.
"Airports is something that for a long time, we've been saying testing, testing, testing, so I'd like to see that pick up for sure but I think testing and vaccination rollout are two areas of major concern that we need to up our game there,” he said.
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,253 tests on Tuesday.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 173,931 tests. There have been 499 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Cases have ranged in age from under 10 to over 70. Four-hundred-and-ninety cases are now resolved.
There is currently one people in hospital due to COVID-19, in the intensive care unit.
Since the pandemic began, Nova Scotia has completed 297,109 tests. Cumulatively, there have been 1,588 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,514 cases considered recovered.
The province has reported 65 COVID-19 related deaths since the pandemic began, with an average age of 80.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the province’s confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Fifty-five per cent of cases are female, and 45 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: 94 cases (no active cases)
- Central Zone: 1,288 cases (8 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 127 cases (no active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 79 cases (1 active case)
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to Feb. 21, 2021.
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard now provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.
As of Wednesday, 20,013 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far, with 5,900 Nova Scotians having received a second dose.
Of the vaccines administered, 10,541 were health care workers, and 1,862 were long-term care residents.
The province has received 34,800 doses of vaccine, and are holding 8,853 for a second dose as of Feb. 8. A shipment of 1,950 more doses is anticipated this week.
NEW SELF-ISOLATION RULES FOR TRAVELLING FROM NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
With an outbreak reported this week in Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials in Nova Scotia say effective Wednesday, people entering Nova Scotia from N.L. need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-In form before arriving and immediately quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Nova Scotians returning from N.L. must also self-isolate for 14 days, unless they are exempt from the order.
"We are imposing now, anybody coming from Newfoundland and Labrador will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health on Wednesday."Again, this is a reminder of how quickly things can change."
Public health says some people are exempt from the self-isolation order if they do not have symptoms. Those people include:
- certain workers who must travel for their jobs
- people who are dropping off or picking up a child within about 24 hours as part of a legal custody agreement
- people traveling to and from essential health services, with accompanying support people
- people can participate in a legal proceeding but must otherwise self-isolate
"Specialized workers doing critical urgent work that cannot be done by anyone in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island can enter Nova Scotia to do their work but must otherwise self-isolate," wrote Nova Scotia Public Health, in a news release on Tuesday.
Public health is also advising anyone who visited Newfoundland and Labrador in the last two weeks to get tested immediately and consider a second test five or seven days later. These people should self-isolate while waiting for test results.
“Travel has been the main source of cases in Nova Scotia and we continue to ask people not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary,” said Dr. Strang. “This is a time to explore our own province and support local business rather than traveling outside Nova Scotia.”
Strang says Nova Scotians planning to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador should only do so for essential purposes.
"Rotational workers who work outside Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island have a modified form of self-isolation when they return home. They must get tested on day one or two of their isolation and again on day six, seven or eight," wrote the province in a Tuesday news release.
NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING
Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have attended several social interactions, even with their own social circle.
COVID-19 tests can be booked through the provinces online self-assessment COVID-19 tool, or by calling 811.
People can also visit one of Nova Scotia’s many rapid pop-up testing sites that continue to operate throughout the province.
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
The dates and times to a potential exposure at HomeSense in Bayers Lake, N.S. has been changed after the province sent out a corrected version. The correction is reflected in the above article.