N.S. reports two COVID-19 cases; changes to vaccine rollout for those over the age of 80
HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Both cases are in the Central zone. Public health says one is a close contact to a previously reported case and the other case remains under investigation.
Nova Scotia currently has 31 active cases of COVID-19.
BOOKING APPOINTMENTS FOR PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 80
In a news conference on Friday, Strang acknowledged an issue earlier this week, where people over the age of 80 had troubles booking their vaccine appointments after the system crashed due to heavy online-traffic.
"Monday was not a good day for anyone who tried to book an appointment. I recognize it was a frustrating and negative experience for many. We know we need to do better and we will," said Strang.
The province's top doctor says new protocols have been put in place to avoid the same system failure.
Public health has now divided the "over 80 age group" into three groups based on their birth month.
Those groups include:
- Group 1: anyone over the age of 80 who was born between January 1 and April 30
- Group 2: anyone over the age of 80 who was born between May 1 and August 31
- Group 3: anyone over the age of 80 who was born between September 1 and December 31
Beginning Monday at 7 a.m., Strang says only those in Group 1 (people over the age of 80 who were born in the months between January 1 and April 30), are allowed to contact public health to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
He says the date on which the other groups will be allowed to start booking depends on how the appointments go for the first group.
"If you try to book Monday and you are not over 80... and if you were not born between January 1 and April 30, your information will not be accepted and you will not be allowed to book an appointment," said Strang.
Strang also says there are a limited number of phone lines for those who prefer to call rather than go online, and asks everyone to be patient while they wait to get through.
"Everyone who wants a vaccine will get one," said Strang. "But we do need to be patient. We have lots of people to get through. This is a month long program, so have a little patience as you have, and we will get to you in time."
MOST RESTRICTIONS EASING IN HALIFAX AREA
Most of the tightened restrictions put in place last week in the Halifax area have been lifted effective Friday.
On Feb. 26, the province announced new restrictions to begin the following day surrounding restaurant hours, sport competitions, culture performances and non-essential travel. The restrictions were originally scheduled to be in effect until at least March 26, but public health says low case numbers allow them to ease those restrictions three weeks early.
Effective Friday at 8 a.m., the following activities are allowed:
- travel in and out of HRM and surrounding municipalities
- participants and officials in performing arts and sports (recreational, amateur and professional) can gather in groups of up to 60 people without social distancing for rehearsals, performances, practices and regular competitive schedule
- spectators at performing arts and sports will be allowed as long as the host facilities have a gathering plan
- the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will reopen public school gyms for after-school use on March 6
- restaurants and bars will return to previous dine-in service requirements, with service stopped by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m.
- weddings and funeral in a faith facility or funeral homes can have 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent of capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors. Receptions and visitations continue to be not permitted in HRM and surrounding municipalities
One restriction that remains unchanged surrounds long-term care facilities. Residents in long-term care homes are still only allowed to have visits from their two designated caregivers ad can only leave the facility for medical appointments or for a drive with a designated caregiver. This restriction remains in effect until at least March 27 for HRM up to Porters Lake, as well as the communities of Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards.
UPCOMING RAPID TESTING SITES
Nova Scotia lists the locations for their COVID-19 rapid pop-up testing sites on their website.
Rapid testing in Nova Scotia is offered to people who:
- are over 16
- do not have symptoms
- have not travelled out of province
- have not visited a potential exposure location
- have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive
Upcoming rapid testing sites include:
- Friday, March 5 at the Spryfield Lions Rink and Rec Center (111 Drysdale Rd, Halifax) from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. - Entrance to gymnasium on left hand side of the building
UPCOMING MOBILE UNIT TESTING SITES
Drop-in and pre-booked appointments for public health's Mobile Units are available at:
- Brooklyn Civic Centre (995 NS-215, Brooklyn, Hants Co. - behind the fire station)
- Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- New Minas Fire Department (6 Jones Rd., New Minas)
- Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 5,589 tests on Friday.
The province has completed 362,278 tests since the pandemic began.
Public health says between Feb.26 and March 2, 5,618 tests were administered at the rapid-testing sites in Eastern Passage, Halifax and Spryfield.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 239,100 COVID-19 tests. There have been 562 positive cases, and no deaths.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,651 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,555 cases have recovered and 65 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
There are three people in hospital because of COVID-19, one of which is 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 (1 active case)
- Central Zone: 1,335 cases (23 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 131 cases (3 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 86 cases (4 active cases)
STATE OF EMERGENCY RENEWED
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to March 21.
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, 38,676 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far. Of those, 24,281 were first doses and 14,395 were Nova Scotians receiving their second dose
Of the vaccines administered 27,596 went to health care workers, and 4,500 were long-term care residents.
To date, the province has received a total of 61,980 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and are holding 8,670 in reserve for second doses and planned clinics.
Nova Scotia welcomed Ottawa's go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week.
Premier Iain Rankin called the approval of Canada's fourth vaccine a "positive step forward."
"As you can see this is a very dynamic situation that is dependent on the federal government's regulatory approval process," Rankin said. "Our vaccine rollout is ramping up as more clinics open and we receive more doses from the federal government."
Rankin confirmed that Nova Scotia would be adopting a 16-week interval between first and second shots as recommended by the national panel of vaccine experts, meaning all Nova Scotians who want vaccine will get one shot by the end of June.
"We are committed to being ready to getting shots in arms when it is available," the premier said. He added the province's goal remains to achieve full immunity by this fall.
Officials said they would also have more specific details next week on the rollout of the 13,000 doses the province is receiving of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The shipment must be used by April 2 and is targeted for those aged 50 to 64 years. It will be administered starting March 15 at 26 locations.
NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING
Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have had 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
With files from The Canadian Press.