HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia is reporting eight new COVID-19 cases and 13 recoveries on Wednesday, as the active number of cases in the province drops to 92.

Public health says five of the new cases are in the province’s Central zone. Four are close contacts of previously reported cases and the other is under investigation.

Three new cases are in the Eastern zone. Two are close contacts of previously reported cases and the other is under investigation.

No new cases were reported in the province's Western or Northern zones on Wednesday.

Public Health says there is now “limited community spread” in the Central zone. The Eastern, Northern and Western zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread.

"Nova Scotians should be proud of the work they have done to get us where we are today," said Premier Iain Rankin in a news release. "Although our cases continue to be in the single digits and people are following the public health measures, it is important to continue to get tested. Testing is a key part of our reopening plan as it will help to identify cases quickly before they have the chance to spread."

The province says 13 previously reported cases are now considered resolved, with the total number of active cases dropping to 92 -- the lowest number of active cases reported in the province since April 21.

"As we work our way through the reopening plan, entering Phase 2 today, it is important to remember to continue to get tested for COVID-19 and get vaccinated as soon as you can," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "Many of our new cases are among people who are not vaccinated, or who got the virus within two weeks of their first dose, before the vaccine has taken effect."

COVID-19 CASE CONNECTED TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

In a news release later in the day on Wednesday, Nova Scotia announced a new case of COVID-19 connected to Prospect Road Elementary in Hatchet Lake, N.S. – located in the province's Central zone.

Public health says the school will be closed until Monday to allow for testing of close contacts and a deep cleaning. Families of students will be informed about at-home learning and an update on the status of the school closure will be provided by Monday.

"Public health will be in touch with any close contacts of positive cases and advise of next steps, including testing. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days," wrote the province in a release.

Health officials are also recommending that all students and staff be tested for COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution. These individuals are not required to self-isolate while they wait for their test result, unless they have been identified as a close contact and told otherwise by public health.

PROVINCE MOVES TO PHASE 2 OF REOPENING

Effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nova Scotia has moved to Phase 2 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan. 

Under Phase 2, Nova Scotians are able to partake in more activities with smaller, well-managed groups. Indoor and outdoor activities, along with social gatherings, will also have restrictions eased.

Restaurants and bars in the province are now allowed to have indoor dining with physical distancing between tables.

All retail stores are allowed to operate at 50 per cent of the store's capacity.

Under the changes, the social gathering limit indoors is also increased to 10 people without social distancing and masks, while the outdoor limit is up to 25 people without physical distancing.

A list of all five reopening phases, along with restriction changes, can be found on the Government of Nova Scotia website.

CASE DATA

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia labs processed 5,142 tests, and have now processed a total of 888,859 since the start of the pandemic.

There have been 5,759 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 5,577 people have recovered, and 90 have died due to COVID-19.

According to the province's online dashboard, there are currently five individuals in hospital, four of whom are in an intensive care unit.

Since April 1, there have been 4,017 positive COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths. Of the new cases since April 1, 3,901 are now considered resolved.

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: 284 cases (three active cases)
  • Central zone: 4,579 cases (55 active cases)
  • Northern zone: 298 cases (five active case)
  • Eastern zone: 598 cases (29 active cases)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to June 27, 2021.

VACCINE SECOND DOSES MOVED UP

More Nova Scotians are now able to book an appointment to receive their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine earlier than originally scheduled.

In a news release Wednesday, the province announced that effective immediately, anyone who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 1 and are scheduled to receive their second dose on or before August 14, can now reschedule their appointment to receive their second dose at an earlier date.

Public health says recipients will receive an email to the account provided at the time of booking.

Anyone who did not provide an email must call the toll-free line at 1-833-797-7772 to reschedule or to request an email address be added.

When rescheduling the second dose, people will select a new date and time at any clinic across the province that has an available appointment.

The province says notices will continue to be sent over the following weeks as vaccine supply is received.

Anyone who has received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can choose a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Anyone who has received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can now receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna.

Nova Scotia health recommends people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca receive Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose, “based on emerging evidence of a better immune response with an alternate second dose and the risk of rare but serious blood clotting events associated with AstraZeneca.”

The province's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Wednesday, 715,070 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with approximately 67.6 per cent of the province's overall population having received at least one dose. Of those, 58,854 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

The province says it has received a total of 788,770 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible. COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

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 province's online self-assessment COVID-19 tool, or by calling 811.

People can also visit one of Nova Scotia’s rapid pop-up testing sites that continue to operate throughout the province.

  • Centennial Arena (27 Vimy Ave., Halifax) from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS), from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Halifax Convention Centre (1650 Argyle St., Halifax), from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion