Nova Scotia reports five new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday; five new variant cases identified
HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Three previously reported cases are now considered recovered, as the number of active cases in the province increases to 26.
Three of Tuesday's new cases were identified in the province's Central zone, and two were identified in the Western zone. All five cases are close contacts of previously reported cases and are self-isolating.
“It may seem like a bit of a roller-coaster right now – no cases yesterday and then five new cases today. But this is nature of the beast," said Nova Scotia premier Iain Rankin during Tuesday's news update. "What I see however, are more and more Nova Scotians getting vaccinated. Our program is proceeding on a good schedule. What I also see are low case numbers because of the actions and behaviours of Nova Scotians.”
MORE VARIANT CASES IDENTIFIED
The National Microbiology Lab confirmed five new variant cases in the province, all of which are in the Central zone - three cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom and two cases of the variant first found in South Africa.
Public health says one case of the variant first found in South Africa has no known link to a previously reported variant case or to travel. This person was tested earlier this month and their illness is considered resolved. The investigation is still ongoing and so far, none of their close contacts have tested positive.
"Right now there's nothing that leads us to believe there is community spread, whether it is the regular COVID strain or any of these variant cases," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "That's very good news, but the fact that we have variant cases at all is a reminder of how our situation could change very quickly."
The other four new variant cases are directly linked to known cases or international travel.
This brings the total number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first found in the U.K.) in Nova Scotia to 11 and the B.18.104.22.168 variant (first found in South Africa) to eight.
At this time, there is no sign of community spread from the variant cases.
"MARITIME BUBBLE" BEING DISCUSSED
Nova Scotia’s premier says he has had discussions with the premier’s of New Brunswick and P.E.I. regarding a Maritime bubble, and more news could be coming next week.
“Next week I will be having a discussion with my fellow Maritime premiers to discuss next steps regarding our borders, as we consider re-establishing the Maritime bubble in the weeks ahead,” said Rankin. “As always we will be guided by public health, with safety as always our primary concern.”
Rankin said he has had preliminary discussion with New Brunswick and P.E.I. but “has not contemplated Newfoundland at all, at this point.”
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,841 tests on Monday.
The province has completed 375,976 tests since the pandemic began.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,664 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,573 cases have recovered and 65 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
There is one person in hospital, in the intensive care unit, because of COVID-19.
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: 101 cases (3 active case)
- Central Zone: 1,344 cases (18 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 132 cases (3 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 87 cases (2 active cases)
ASTRAZENECA VACCINE TO ROLL OUT MARCH 20
Starting Saturday, a third COVID-19 vaccine will be available for Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotians ages 63 and 64 will be the first group eligible to access the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 20.
The vaccine will be available at 25 locations across the province on a first come, first served basis.
"We have a solid plan to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to a specific age group as a start and it's thanks to the hard work of everyone at Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia who answered the call," said N.S. Premier Iain Rankin in a release. "This vaccine provides another tool in our fight against COVID-19 and builds on the roll-out that is already underway in our province as we work to vaccinate all Nova Scotians."
The province has partnered with the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia to help deliver 13,000 doses of the vaccine before April 2.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is given on a two-dose schedule. Booking for appointments opens Tuesday, March 16 and can be made online or by calling toll-free 1-833-797-7772.
Public health says as supply of AstraZeneca increases, they will offer the vaccine to Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 to 64, starting with those who are oldest and working backward by age.
"All COVID-19 vaccines provide good protection against severe COVID-19 illness," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health in a statement. "Having the AstraZeneca vaccine will allow eligible Nova Scotians to have an option to receive an earlier immunization."
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.
As of Tuesday, 40,231 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far. Of those, 25,689 were first doses and 14,542 were Nova Scotians receiving their second dose
Of the vaccines administered 31,855 went to health care workers, and 5,334 were long-term care residents.
To date, the province has received a total of 73,680 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and are holding 10,881 in reserve for second doses and planned clinics.
The province also says they will soon have more vaccine than expected with 38,000 extra doses of Pfizer-BioNtech arriving in the last two weeks of March.
Recently updated guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has extended the second dose interval of COVID-19 vaccines to 16 weeks. This change means more Nova Scotians will receive a first dose of vaccine sooner.
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:
- Tuesday, March 9 at the LeBron Recreation Centre, 36 Holland Ave., Bedford from 1 to 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, March 11 at the St. Margaret’s Centre, 12 Westwood Blvd, Upper Tantallon from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Friday, March 12 at the St. Margaret’s Centre, 12 Westwood Blvd, Upper Tantallon from noon to 7:30 p.m.
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