Three more residents at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths at the facility to 45.
Nova Scotia has now seen a total of 51 deaths connected to the virus.
“One of the terrible realities of COVID-19 is that we’re not able to mourn the way that we are accustomed to mourning,” acknowledged Premier Stephen McNeil during a news conference in Halifax on Wednesday.
“So, to those families who have lost someone during this period of time, I want you to know it is not lost on all of us, not only are you going through the grieving process of losing the person you love, but you’re also having to do it in a very different way, and it is on our mind heavily and you are in our thoughts and in our prayers and Nova Scotians are with you.”
Northwood, which is the largest such facility east of Montreal, has seen the most significant outbreak of COVID-19 in the province.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang has previously said that Northwood has faced unique challenges in fighting the spread of COVID-19 due to the size and age of the facility, where many residents share rooms.
“Most of our residents are now living in single rooms, which has helped to prevent significant further spread of the virus,” said Northwood CEO Janet Simm on Wednesday.
“There are some exceptions, however, for those couples or roommates who do not want to be separated.”
Four new cases identified at Northwood
The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 502 tests on Tuesday.
Four new cases of the virus were identified, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nova Scotia to 1,024.
All four cases are associated with Northwood. Strang confirmed that two of the cases involve residents and the other two cases involve staff members.
He also confirmed that the case reported on Tuesday was also linked to Northwood.
To date, Nova Scotia has 34,604 negative test results.
Of the 1,024 confirmed cases, 870 people have now recovered from the virus, and their cases are considered resolved. This leaves 103 active cases in the province.
Three long-term care homes and seniors’ facilities have active cases of COVID-19 at this time, with most of those cases at Northwood.
The province says Northwood has 64 residents and 13 staff members with active cases of the virus.
Two other facilities -- which have not been identified -- each have an active case of COVID-19; one case involves a resident and another involves an employee.
Of the province’s 103 active cases, 79 are in long-term care facilities, which leaves 24 actives cases in the community.
Reconciling the data: Northwood numbers
There has been some confusion over the number of recovered and active cases reported by the province, which haven’t matched up with the numbers reported at Northwood.
Strang explained that the data from long-term care homes comes from a different data source than the one used by public health, and is on a different timeline.
“In the last 48 hours we have done a lot of that work with our recovery cases and been able to reconcile that data,” said Strang.
“That’s why you’ll see today that Northwood’s active cases among residents dropped from 157 to 64, so we have a much truer picture of our number of active cases.”
The number of active cases among Northwood staff actually grew from eight to 13 on Wednesday. Strang said five employees had been listed as recovered, but following a review of long-term care data, it was determined their cases are still active, so that correction has been made.
Strang said health officials will continue to refine their testing processes, conduct audits and reconcile the data.
‘We’re not in a race’: No update on reopening plan
McNeil said many questions and concerns have been raised about when Nova Scotia’s reopening plan will be revealed and what it might entail, but no dates have been set yet.
He said Strang is still consulting with businesses and other sectors to determine how they can reopen safely.
The premier said the province must also see “good results on flattening the curve” before making any decisions.
He noted that while some provinces have already reopened, Nova Scotia was the last province to see a positive case of COVID-19.
“This is not a competition. We're not in a race. We need to be safe,” said McNeil. “We need to continue to see a pattern of fewer cases. That happens, and I feel confident that we are getting closer to a gradual opening.”
What we know about the confirmed cases
The province’s 1,024 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.
Nine people are currently in hospital. Four of those patients are in intensive care units.
There are cases across the province, but most are in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s central zone.
The four new cases announced Wednesday were all identified at Northwood, which is in the central zone.
The western, northern and eastern zones are reporting no additional cases at this time.
Western zones: 54 cases
Central zone: 875 cases
Northern zone: 44 cases
Eastern zone: 51 cases
Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases.
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:
New or worsening cough