N.S. reports three new COVID-19 cases Wednesday; concerns that cases could rise
HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
All of the new cases are in the Central zone. One is a close contact with a previously reported case, while two are under investigation.
Two of the province's previously reported cases are now recovered, with the active cases increasing to 21.
TOP DOCTOR CONCERNED CASES COULD RISE
Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, says he is concerned about community transmission after seeing several cases this week with no clear link to travel or another case.
"Many of those testing positive for COVID-19 recently have been socializing more with a broad range of close contacts," said Strang. "The good news is that people are, by in large, respecting the limits and they are not gathering in large groups, but they are socializing frequently with different groups of people."
Strang says, based on this information, the province does expect to see more positive COVID-19 cases in the coming days. He is reminding all Nova Scotians to be cautious and to remember to follow public health measures.
"We need to continue to be cautious. I recognize that COVID fatigue is real. We've been at this for almost a year, but as tired as everyone is, public health measures are as important now as they were last March and April," said Strang.
"So, enjoy your friends, go out to dinner, and socialize in other ways, but I am just asking people that, even if you're living within what's required in the public health regulations, you need to go further to slow down your social activities. Spread out the frequency, keep your social groups, ideally, to a single social group no more than 10 and keep it consistent."
STRANG ASKS TWO AREAS OF PROVINCE TO GET TESTED
Strang says the province identified 93 close contacts to a cluster reported in the Central zone last week that also had connections to Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary School, in Beaver Bank, N.S. He says of the close contacts, 89 have received negative test results. The province is still working to identify four close contacts to the cluster.
"So, that's good news to share, that a cluster that does not appear to have spread further from that," said Strang.
As a result of an increase in general community testing in the Lower Sackville/Beaver Bank area, an additional positive case has been identified, which remains under investigation.
Strang says due to the concerns surrounding the possibility of undetected community transmission, they are increasing the testing capacity and access to testing in two parts of the province.
"In Lower Sackville and Beaver Bank we are in the process of establishing a primary assessment centre... and in the communities between Wolfville and Berwick, because we have some other cases in there that we're working to determine how they may be linked and we have concerns that it might be some undetected community spread."
The province's top doctor says they are asking anyone in the two areas to get tested, even if they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
"So, specifically focused testing in geographical areas is what we've done previously when we've detected concerning signs. We're doing that again and it's important. It's what helped us robustly to deal with the Halifax outbreak, it's what's going to help us out right now. So, we ask people in those areas to take advantage and go get tested in the next few days."
FIRST COVID-19 VACCINATION CLINIC IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITY
The first COVID-19 prototype clinic focusing on First Nations Communities took place at Millbrook First Nation on Wednesday.
"These clinics will start for those who are aged 55 and older, as well as other people that identified as important knowledge and language keepers in those communities," said Strang.
Strang says the decision to start vaccinating at the age 55 was made to recognize that Indigenous communities, due to the impacts of systemic racism, may experience "disproportionate consequences."
"It also recognizes that elders in the community play a very important role as holders of the language and knowledge keepers in their communities," said Strang.
Elder Patsy Paul-Martin was the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Millbrook First Nation on Wednesday. She says she feels privileged.
"I was excited. I feel protected," said Paul-Martin.
Strang says the province is also working with African Nova Scotian communities, which they plan to have their first prototype clinic ready for at the end of March.
"We're working closely with the community leaders to develop this prototype, and from there we will expand these clinics to other African Nova Scotian communities, and support access to community vaccine clinics, as well as working with community leaders to address the vaccine mistrust," said Strang.
NOVA SCOTIANS OVER 80 TO BE VACCINATED SOON
Strang says beginning March 1, Nova Scotians over the age of 80 will be able to start booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. He says letters to people in that age group who hold an MSI card have been mailed out, which provide information on how to book an appointment.
Vaccinations will start being administered for this age group on March 8, with clinics being held at the IWK Health Centre, the Canada Games Complex Centre in Sydney, the NSCC Truro Campus in Truro, N.S., and the New Minas Baptist Church in New Minas, N.S.
Strang also announced six additional vaccination clinics that will be opening in Nova Scotia throughout the month of March.
Three of the new clinics that are scheduled to begin booking appointments on March 15 will be located at:
- St. Francis University in Antigonish, N.S.
- Halifax Forum in Halifax
- NSCC Burridge Campus in Yarmouth, N.S.
Strang says the other three clinics, which are expected to begin on March 22, will be located at the NSCC Lunenburg Campus in Bridgewater, N.S., one in Amherst, N.S., and another one in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,754 tests on Tuesday. The province has completed 320,346 tests since the pandemic began.
There have been 1,616 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,530 cases have recovered and 65 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
There is one person in hospital because of COVID-19 and they are in the intensive care unit.
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: 99 cases (4 active case)
- Central Zone: 1,307 cases (15 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 128 cases (0 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 82 cases (2 active cases)
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to March 7, 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, 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far. Of those, 17,579 were first doses and 11,658 were Nova Scotians receiving their second dose.
Of the vaccines administered 22,497 went to health care workers, and 3,160 were long-term care residents.
"We anticipate receiving 14,700 doses of vaccine, well, we are receiving them throughout this week, and our vaccine supply is expected to be steady with weekly shipments of at least 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine until the end of March," said Strang. "Meaning that we are on target to meet the outcomes for the first 90 days of a vaccine strategy."
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