N.S. schools see first COVID-19 cases as two students in Halifax area test positive
HALIFAX -- Two schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality are the first in Nova Scotia to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
On Monday, principals at Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook, N.S., and Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour, N.S., were informing families of all students who may have been exposed. Those students will be staying out of school.
A parent of two students -- one at Graham Creighton and the other at Auburn Drive -- previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says the classrooms the two students are in will be closed until further testing can be done.
There is no information yet about what grades or classes are impacted at the two schools.
McNeil said closing the schools is not something that public health is recommending at this time.
"We believe that in these schools the highest risk is the classrooms these kids are in," McNeil said in an interview with CTV Anchor Steve Murphy on Monday.
PREMIER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT POSSIBLE LOCKDOWN
McNeil said that Nova Scotians have done a great job, and he understands that they're tiring and they're weary, but they need to look beyond Nova Scotia.
"We need to stay vigilant. Let's not let our hard work go for naught," McNeil said. "Everyone in this province should believe that the virus is right outside their front door. Don't assume that it's not."
With the number of cases creeping up after months of low numbers, McNeil issued a warning.
"If this continues, we're going to have to take some very drastic steps that I don't believe Nova Scotians want, but we will do what is required, as we demonstrated in the first wave, but we want Nova Scotians to help us so we don't have to go to that extent," McNeil told CTV News.
McNeil says he's watched other provinces have low numbers and then witness a spike in COVID-19 cases and he vowed not to let that happen in Nova Scotia.
"If we get these spikes, we'll do whatever we have to," McNeil said. "Whether that's a lockdown or different measures."
ACTIVE CASE TOTAL RISES TO 23
Nova Scotia health officials reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the active number of cases in the province to 23.
The provincial government says both of the new cases are in the Central Zone. They are connected to previously reported cases and are under investigation
Monday's new cases comes after eight new cases were identified over the weekend.
Two new cases were identified on Sunday -- both in the Central Zone -- and are linked to previously reported cases, including cases linked to the Clayton Park cluster.
On Saturday, the province reported six new cases of COVID-19 in the Central Zone -- the largest one-day increase in cases the province has seen since May.
According to health officials, all six cases are contacts of previously reported cases.
One of the new cases is related to the Bitter End in Halifax, a restaurant that appears to be linked to the Clayton Park cluster reported earlier this week.
The province said the other cases are part of an emerging cluster that is being investigated by public health.
“As we've seen in other provinces, COVID-19 cases can increase in no time,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia.
“We must not let our guard down in Nova Scotia. Please continue to adhere to protocols and limit the number of your close social contacts and social activities."
NOVA SCOTIA HAS ONE OF LOWEST INFECTION RATES
Dr. Todd Hatchette says Nova Scotia has some of the lowest rates of infection anywhere in the world.
"The Atlantic Bubble has actually been really effective and really tight," Hatchette said. "But, as we see more cases across the country and more cases internationally, we expect that there will be breaks in the bubble as travellers come back and it's imperative that people follow the quarantine and isolation regulations and rules because that's really what's going to protect us."
But, with more cases popping up in the HRM, some people are getting more cautious.
"As somebody with a compromised immune system, it's terrifying," says Melody Harding."I was going out to the grocery store with a mask and doing sanitization and things like that but at this point now I'm not going to grocery stores anymore, we're not going anywhere that we don't have to."
Jolene Pattison keeps a log of where she goes and when in case public health ever needs that information.
"I do it old school," Pattison said. "I have a piece of paper and I make note of all of the spots that I go and I also try to make sure that I only go out when I absolutely need to and when I do go out, I do all of my errands back to back."
Although Nova Scotia has low infection rates, there were a number of potential exposures recently announced across HRM, which has some wondering if there is a way for public health to release more information faster.
"It would be great if they could give the exposure notices through the COVID app or with other resources," Harding said. "I see most of mine through shares on Facebook and Twitter but you look at the older community, people with busy families they may not be checking social media as much."
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 844 Nova Scotia tests on Sunday.
To date, Nova Scotia has had 122,682 negative test results and 1,146 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 1,058 cases are now considered resolved and 65 people have died as a result of the novel coronavirus, leaving 23 active cases in the province.
There is no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
The province's confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Sixty per cent of cases are female and 40 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: 58 cases
- Central Zone: 956 cases
- Northern Zone: 77 cases
- Eastern Zone: 55 cases
POTENTIAL COVID-19 EXPOSURES
Nova Scotia also reported 10 possible COVID-19 exposures throughout HRM over the weekend.
Health officials are asking anyone who visited The Local Bar and Restaurant on Nov. 9 between 4 p.m. and close to contact 811 and arrange for a COVID-19 test, whether you have symptoms of the virus or not.
The updated information came in a news release from public health Saturday evening.
“Our investigation continues into several cases within the Central Zone, primarily in the Halifax area currently. At times, we gather information throughout our investigation that means we have to issue new information and advice,” said Dr. Claudia Sarbu, the province’s regional medical officer of health, in a news release Saturday evening.
“These steps are taken to help us contain and manage the spread of COVID-19 and protest the health of Nova Scotians.”
Originally, officials said on Friday anyone who was at the restaurant should self-monitor for symptoms up to, and including, Nov. 23.
The Local Bar and Restaurant is located in downtown Halifax at 2037 Gottingen Street.
Nine other potential COVID-19 exposures were also identified over Friday and Saturday during the following dates and times:
- The Economy Shoe Shop Bar and Restaurant on Nov. 8, between 8:30 and 11 p.m.
- John W. Lindsay YMCA on Sackville Street on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., but only in the gym section of that facility.
- Tim Hortons on Verdi Drive, (Bedford Commons) on Nov. 12 from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Real Fake Meats in Halifax located at 2278 Gottingen St. on Oct. 31 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Antojo Tacos and Tequila in Halifax located at 1667 Argyle St. on Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- MEC in Halifax located at 1550 Granville St. on Nov. 4 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Aerobics First in Halifax located at 6166 Quinpool Rd. on Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Pet Valu in Halifax located at 5686 Spring Garden Rd. on Nov. 9 from 5:30 pm to 6:30pm.
- East Preston Recreation Centre – Gym/Basketball Court in East Preston, N.S., located at 24 Brooks Drive, on Nov. 9 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Nova Scotia health says anyone that was at any of these nine locations on the dates and times listed above should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, following the day of exposure.
Should any COVID-19 symptoms develop, they are directed to self-isolate and take the online self-assessment or call 811 to get tested.
ONLINE BOOKING FOR COVID TESTS
Nova Scotia’s online booking for COVID-19 tests is now available for everyone across the province.
Nova Scotians must first complete the online self-assessment to determine if they need a COVID-19 test. If they do require a test, they will be directed to the online booking site to make an appointment.
Tests should be scheduled within 48 hours of completing the self-assessment.
COVID ALERT APP
Earlier in October, Nova Scotia Health announced that Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is now available in the province.
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.
STATE OF EMERGENCY RENEWED
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Nov. 29, unless the government terminates or extends it before then.
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
SELF-ISOLATION AND MANDATORY MASKS
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic region for non-essential reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days and must fill out a self-declaration form before coming to the province. Travellers must self-isolate alone, away from others. If they cannot self-isolate alone, their entire household must also self-isolate for 14 days.
Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not required to self-isolate when travelling to Nova Scotia, but they must be prepared to provide proof of their place of residency at provincial borders.
Visitors from outside the Atlantic region who have already self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate again.