Nova Scotia reports two new COVID-19 cases on Friday; vaccine program continues to rollout
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia health officials are reporting two new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 32 active cases remaining in the province.
According to the province’s online dashboard, two previously reported cases are now considered resolved.
Of the new cases, one is in the Northern Zone and one is in the Central zone. Both cases are close contacts of previously reported cases.
VACCINATION PROGRAM CONTINUES TO ROLL OUT
Premier Stephen McNeil says the province’s vaccine program continues to roll out each day.
As of Thursday evening, the province says they have administered 7,600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Of the total vaccines administered, 2,200 have been healthcare workers who received their second dose.
Frontline workers and long-term care workers at Halifax’s Northwood campus have received their first shot of the vaccine as well.
“We are also running clinics in two of our largest long-term care facilities in the province. All workers and residents should have their first shots by the end of next week,” said McNeil.
McNeil says next week is an important one for Nova Scotia, when they will be running clinics in three other long-term care homes, including two in Cape Breton, N.S.
The province continues to operate clinics in Halifax, Cape Breton and the valley. They also plan to start a clinic in Truro, N.S. for frontline workers.
“Dealing with this vaccine is not like dealing with the flu,” explained McNeil, in a press conference on Friday. “The Moderna supply is expected to arrive every three weeks. The Pfizer is expected to arrive weekly. That is if there is no interruptions.”
“It has to be in cold storage and we have to move it across our province safely. We cannot waste a single dose of this vaccine.”
McNeil says the province continues to give people the first shot, and hold back on the second shot to guarantee people a full vaccination.
“We will continue to do this until we are guaranteed there will be no interruption in supply, and right now, we don’t have that guarantee,” said McNeil.
Going forward, the province plans to report vaccinations completed twice a week.
“Up until yesterday, we’ve received slightly over 13,000 doses of vaccine. All of that has either gone into people’s arms; mostly for a first dose, some for a second dose, or the rest has been held back and is scheduled to go into somebody’s arm for a second dose,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
According to the province, an additional 10,000 vaccine doses were received on Thursday.
“And those 10,000 doses of vaccine will start to go into people’s arms on Monday and will be used by the end of the week,” said Strang. “Our goal is to have a constant and steady supply."
INMATES IN PROVINCIAL JAILS WILL HAVE TO WAIT
Nova Scotia's chief medical officer says inmates in provincial jails will be considered for immunization, alongside other vulnerable populations, when there's a larger supply of vaccine in the province.
Strang said Friday that health workers and residents of long-term care homes will be vaccinated first in the weeks to come, adding that the next rollout will be targeted at older citizens.
However, prisoner advocacy group East Coast Prison Justice Society issued a statement this week saying conditions at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Halifax are inhumane, and that prisoners are spending most of their days in their cells.
The group says the province should prioritize vaccinating prisoners and corrections staff.
Strang responded by saying when "general immunization" begins in the spring, high priority will be given to African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities, along with people in homeless shelters and in prisons.
Strang, however, says planning for the vaccination rollout for all of those groups is still in the early stages.
"Part of our planning is actually looking at how do we make sure those vulnerable populations and settings get included in a timely manner as we're able to, once we get much greater vaccine supply," he told reporters.
Earlier this month, Correctional Service of Canada announced it was beginning to vaccinate older, medically vulnerable federal inmates against COVID-19, as recommended by the national advisory committee on immunization. The agency said vaccine will be administered to all federal inmates as supply becomes more available.
MANDATORY TESTING FOR ROTATIONAL WORKERS
The province’s top doctor says mandatory testing for rotational workers who work outside of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador begins Friday.
“They must get tested twice; once on their first or second day in the province and again on day 6, 7 or 8,” said Strang.
Rotational workers are required to complete their full 14-day modified self-isolation, even if a negative test result is received.
“Which means they can be out with people who live in the same household, but they can’t have close interactions with other people in the community, can’t go into stores, they can drop their kids off at the rink but they can’t go into the rink,” explained Strang.
MOBILE TESTING UNIT IN TRURO
The province's mobile COVID-19 units are in Truro on Friday following a recent increase of potential COVID-19 exposures in the area.
Public health is encouraging anyone who has visited a location that has had a potential COVID-19 exposure in the Northern Zone to get tested. However, they also added that testing is availble for everyone, regardless of whether they attended any of the possible exposure locations.
Drop-in testing is available at the NSCC Truro Campus located at 36 Arthur Street, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
People are asked to look for the signs and register at the Mobile Health Unit vans located in the parking lot.
The pop-up is a response to potential exposure warnings at nine locations throughout Truro announced over the past few days – many for retail stores.
This is the eighth time Nova Scotia's mobile units have been used during the pandemic. Nova Scotia Health has eight more on order and they are expected to arrive before the end of March.
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RETURNING TO N.S.
Strang says just over 3,500 post-secondary students have arrived in Nova Scotia from outside of the province, with more expected to arrive in the next week.
All students returning to the province must self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival and get tested halfway through that isolation period, either on day 6, 7 or 8.
So far, over half of the returning post-secondary students have been tested, with nine students receiving a positive test result.
“All of those cases were doing what they’re supposed to do. They came, they self-isolated, and because they were self-isolating, doing their quarantine, they didn’t have exposure or expose anyone else while they were infectious,” said Strang.
COVID-19 tests for post-secondary students can be pre-booked online three days in advance.
N.S. COVID-19 DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,010 tests on Thursday.
Between Jan. 8 and Jan. 14, 808 tests have been administered at rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax, Sackville, and Yarmouth.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 137,534 tests. There have been 461 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Cases have ranged in age from under 10 to over 70. Four hundred and twenty-nine cases are now resolved.
Since the pandemic began, Nova Scotia has completed 260,712 tests. Cumulatively, there have been 1,550 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 65 total deaths. One-thousand, four-hundred and fifty-three cases are now considered resolved.
There is currently no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the province’s confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Fifty-five per cent of cases are female, and 45 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: 89 cases
- Central Zone: 1266 cases
- Northern Zone: 121 cases
- Eastern Zone: 74 cases
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Jan. 24, 2021.
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.