N.S. identifies two variant COVID-19 cases; four new infections reported Friday
HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and have identified two variant cases of the virus in individuals that were tested in December.
Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs confirmed on Friday that the National Microbiology Lab identified two variant cases of COVID-19 – the United Kingdom variant and the South African variant.
"We know that significant work is being done internationally to understand the implications of these variants and we are working closely with the lab to investigate further both of those cases," said Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Strang says neither of the variant cases resulted in community spread, but in one of the cases, household members were infected.
"Unfortunately, as we tested those individuals, there is a very low amount of virus in their samples and we are unable to send their specimens for sequencing," explained Strang, in a press conference on Friday. "So, it's quite possible that, those people that we cannot do the sequencing on may also have the South African variant. It would make sense if their source was a variant case."
Both of the cases were related to international travel and were reported in the Central Zone.
"I know this may come as a worry," said Premier Stephen McNeil. "It's out first exposure to this variant but it is not unexpected."
NEW CASES IDENTIFIED ON FRIDAY
With four new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, the province now has a total of 22 active cases of the virus.
Four previously reported cases in Nova Scotia are now considered resolved.
One of the new cases is in the Central Zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. This individual is self-isolating, as required.
One of the new cases is in the Northern Zone and is a close contact to a previously reported case.
Two of Friday's cases are in the Western Zone and are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One of the cases in this zone is a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. The student had completed their 14-day self-isolation upon returning to the province and tested positive shortly after finishing the two weeks.
That person is self-isolating again, as required.
"After their 14-day quarantine, they were on campus attending classes, as they were allowed to do. So, public health is investigating and working with the university to arrange testing for anybody who would have been considered exposed in any of the classes," said Strang.
Health officials say a case reported on Thursday connected to École acadienne de Truro– a pre-primary to Grade 12 school in Truro, N.S. – is now appearing on the province's online dashboard on Friday. It did not appear on Thursday – the day it was originally reported – due to the positive result coming in after the provinces cut-off time to report.
STATE OF EMERGENCY RENEWED
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to Feb. 7, 2021.
N.S. EASES SOME RESTRICTIONS
On Friday, Nova Scotia announced they are easing some of their public health restrictions.
Beginning Monday, sports teams will be able to play games with limited travel and no spectators.
Non-sports teams, along with arts and theatre performances are also allowed to start taking place, but without an audience.
"We are also allowing residents from adult service centres and regional rehabilitation centres to go out into the community and start volunteering and working again," said Premier Stephen MacNeil. "We are lifting only these restrictions because it is important for the mental and physical health of all those involved."
Other provincewide public health restrictions will continue until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 7. Those include:
- gathering limit of 10, both in your home and in the community
- restaurants and licensed establishments stop service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m.
- retail businesses and malls operate at 50 per cent capacity
- fitness facilities operate at 50 per cent capacity and have three metres between people for high-intensity activities, including indoor and outdoor fitness classes
- social events, festivals, special events, arts and cultural events and sports events are not permitted
- faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services can have 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent of an indoor venue's capacity, to a maximum of 100
- wedding receptions and funeral receptions and visitation are not permitted
COVID-19 CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,450 tests on Thursday.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 149,042 tests. There have been 481 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Cases have ranged in age from under 10 to over 70. Four hundred and fifty-nine cases are now resolved.
Since the pandemic began, Nova Scotia has completed 272,213 tests. Cumulatively, there have been 1,570 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,483 cases considered recovered.
The province has reported 65 COVID-19 related deaths since the pandemic began, with an average age of 80-years-old.
There is currently no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
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: 92 cases (2 active cases)
- Central Zone: 1275 cases (10 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 127 cases (6 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 76 cases (4 active cases)
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard now provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.
As of Jan. 20, 10,575 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far, with 2,705 Nova Scotians having received a second dose.
Over the next 90 days, officials say they will focus on vaccine delivery to health-care workers directly involved in the COVID-19 response, as well as staff, residents and designated caregivers in long-term care and residential care facilities.
The province also plans to launch prototype clinics to help prepare to deliver and administer large quantities of the vaccine as supply increases.
Those include community clinics for those aged 80 and over and clinics in First Nation and African Nova Scotian communities delivered by physicians and pharmacists.
POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS RETURNING TO N.S.
Any post-secondary students returning to Nova Scotia are required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival. Government officials are also strongly encouraging them to get tested halfway through that isolation period, either on day 6, 7 or 8.
COVID-19 tests for post-secondary students can be pre-booked online three days in advance.
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
This is a developing story. More to come.