Health officials in Nova Scotia identified no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Two previously reported cases are now considered recovered, dropping the total number of active cases in the province to eight.
Friday's case count and the province's diminishing active case number prompted Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to praise residents for their efforts.
"I'm so proud of this province and all of you," said McNeil during a press conference on Friday. "Thank you for your cooperation."
On Friday, the province announced the easing of many public health restrictions, which will come into effect on Monday until at least March 7.
“We have been seeing a low number of new cases daily, and that allows us to ease some restrictions, while keeping public health measures like wearing masks and distancing in place,” said McNeil, in a press release issued on Friday. “I thank Nova Scotians for their patience and their vigilance in following public health guidelines.”
Effective Monday at 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. March 7:
retail businesses can operate at 75 per cent capacity
fitness facilities can operate at 75 per cent capacity and must maintain three metres between people during high-intensity activities both indoors and outdoors
recognized businesses and organizations can resume hosting events with 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors
these events must stop any food or alcohol service by 10 p.m. and end by 11 p.m.
these events include social events, arts and culture events, sport and recreation events, special events, festivals, faith gatherings, weddings with receptions, and funerals with visitation and receptions
these events include bingo, darts and other similar activities hosted by licensed and unlicensed establishments
these gathering limits also apply to meetings and training hosted by private businesses or organizations, provincial and municipal government, first responder organizations, mental health and addictions support groups, and organized clubs
organized clubs can host activities for all ages and follow the day camp guidelines to have cohorts of up to 15 within the larger indoor or outdoor gathering limit
spectators are allowed at events, including sports games and practices and arts and culture rehearsals and performances, except when they are held at schools
large facilities that already have approved plans can resume hosting events with multiple groups of 100 that are kept separate with their own entrances and exits and their own washrooms
Centre 200 in Sydney and Scotiabank Centre in Halifax can have multiple groups of 150
“As we start to be more social again with events, it’s important for Nova Scotians to continue all the layers of protection – wash hands, wear masks, practise physical distance, stay home when you’re sick, and get tested,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang, in a press release issued on Friday. “In addition, everyone should make asymptomatic testing part of their regular routine to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially people with a lot of contacts.”
McNeil added the restrictions can be reinstated at any moment depending on the outcome.
“This is a test for all of us,” said McNeil. “We're keeping our cases down, but the moment that we see a shift or a surge and change in the number of cases, we will not hesitate to bring back restrictions. It really is up to all of us.”
In a release issued on Friday, the province also noted the general gathering limit remains at 10 people. This limit applies to household and informal gatherings and events that are not hosted by a recognized business or organization.
There is no change to hours for restaurants and licensed establishments. These businesses must stop service at 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. There will be no exceptions to close later when there are special sports events, such as the Super Bowl. The province notes the hours also apply to all types of gatherings hosted by recognized businesses and organizations as appropriate.
Sports teams and individual competitors are still restricted to playing and competing with other teams and people with whom they routinely play or compete.
$5M FOR WOMEN
On Friday, during a press conference, the province acknowledged the pandemic's disproportionate impact on women and announced a $5 million contribution to Sandpiper Ventures – the first venture capital fund of the Atlantic Women's Venture Fund, in support of women entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.
"They [women] not only lost their jobs, but they had a very hard time getting back into the workforce, let alone finding a well-paying job," said McNeil. "We need women to be active members of our economy; we need women to drive our economy; we need women in business, in the tech sector, and we need women entrepreneurs."
"If our daughters have an idea, there should be resources available to them, just as it is to our sons," added McNeil. "We know the pandemic has led to a decline in women's employment, at a time when we need more women entrepreneurs. Sandpiper Ventures will help women take their innovative ideas to market."
The province's contribution to Sandpiper is expected to be a catalyst for others. It will also help further develop Nova Scotia's technology and digital start-up ecosystem.
The province says the investment will attract additional capital to the fund and to the region from across the country. Sandpiper invests in women building ground-breaking technology companies, enabling innovative entrepreneurship and equitable growth opportunities.
Sandpiper Venturesis seeking to raise capital from private and public investors with a target of $20 million.
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,681 tests on Thursday.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 167,755 tests. There have been 495 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Cases have ranged in age from under 10 to over 70. Four-hundred-and-eighty-sevencases are now resolved.
"Let's make sure that the work of the last 11 months is not wasted by taking a chance," said McNeil. "We've seen how quickly this virus can take off on us. We've seen it next door, we're watching what's happening in other parts of Canada."
There are currently two people in hospital due to COVID-19, one of which is in the intensive care unit.
Since the pandemic began, Nova Scotia has completed 290,933 tests. Cumulatively, there have been 1,584 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,511 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 (1 active case)
Central Zone: 1,284 cases (6 active cases)
Northern Zone: 127 cases (0 active cases)
Eastern Zone: 79 cases (1 active case)
STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENDED
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 Friday, 17.295 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far, with 4,681 Nova Scotians having received a second dose.
Of the vaccines administered, 10,251 were health care workers, and 1,687 were long-term care residents.
“Although we didn’t receive any vaccine last week, we are scheduled to receive 1,950 doses of Pfizer and 4,000 doses of Moderna later this week,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “As we have with previous shipments, we will administer half as first doses and save half for second doses.”
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.
"As we are seeing low case numbers, we are also noticing fewer people taking advantage of our asymptomatic testing, but we need people to continue getting tested," said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. "I want to encourage everyone, especially people with a high number of contacts, to make asymptomatic testing part of their regular routine. Testing is one way to stop COVID-19 before it has a chance to spread."
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:
Shortness of breath
Runny nose/nasal congestion