HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia is speeding up its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine so that people who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on or before April 10, and are scheduled to receive their second dose on or before July 24, can reschedule their appointments for earlier dates.

"We're expecting a large Moderna shipment this month," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "We'll get to our 75 per cent of two doses of vaccine even faster."

Strang said the province is sending out invites by e-mail to people to move up their second vaccine appointment.

"Get your second dose as soon as you can," Strang said. "Every dose of vaccine gets us closer to our new normal."

Strang said the dominant variant in many provinces in Canada is the delta variant, the one that was originally discovered in India.

"Studies have shown that a single dose is only 30 per cent effective," Strang said. "Two doses are very good protection, so it's very important that we build a two-dose coverage."

Anybody who provided an email address at the time of booking their first dose will received a rescheduling notice by email.

If you did not provide an email, you can call the toll-free line at 1-833-797-7772 to reschedule or request an address be added and the rescheduling email issued.

The rescheduled second appointment can be made at any clinic in Nova Scotia that has an available appointment. People will also be able to pick a different vaccine for their second dose.

"Anyone who has received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now choose a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna," Nova Scotia Public Health said in a news release. "Anyone who has received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can now receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna."

Nova Scotia Public Health recommends people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca receive Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.

"This recommendation is 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 news release said.

13 NEW CASES REPORTED; ACTIVE CASE TOTAL DROPS TO 164

Nova Scotia is reporting 13 new COVID-19 cases and 20 recoveries on Wednesday, as the active number of cases in the province drops to 164.

According to a release from the province, seven of Wednesday's cases are located in the province's Central zone. Two of the cases are close contacts of previously reported cases, two are related to travel and three are under investigation.

In addition to these cases, Nova Scotia is reporting one additional case of COVID-19 connected to Citadel High School in Halifax. Because the case came in after the cut-off for reporting, it will not appear on the COVID-19 data dashboard until Thursday. Public health says that person was not in school Wednesday.

Six new cases are located in the province's Eastern zone. Three of the cases are close contacts of previously reported cases, two are related to travel and one is under investigation.

No new cases were reported in the province's Western or Northern zone 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.

The province says 20 previously reported cases are now considered resolved, with the total number of active cases dropping to 164 - the lowest number of active cases reported in the province since April 23.

On Wednesday evening, public health also announced a list of public exposures to COVID-19.

CASE DATA

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia labs processed 4,171 tests, and a total of 855,783 since the start of the pandemic.

There have been 5,707 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 5,455 people have recovered, and 88 have died due to COVID-19.

According to the province's online dashboard, there are currently 17 individuals in hospital, seven of whom are in an intensive care unit.

Since April 1, there have been 3,965 positive COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths. Of the new cases since April 1, 3,779 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: 282 cases (4 active)
  • Central Zone: 4,543 cases (106 active)
  • Northern Zone: 299 cases (10 active)
  • Eastern Zone: 583 cases (44 active)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to June 13, 2021.

VACCINE UPDATE

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

As of Wednesday, 647,604 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with approximately 61.5 per cent of the province's overall population having received at least one dose.

Nova Scotia has received a total of 724,260 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

Appointments cannot be booked directly through a community clinic, pharmacy or physician. Walk-ins will be turned away.

VISITOR RESTRICTIONS EASED AT N.S. HOSPITALS

Visitor restrictions will be eased at Nova Scotia Health facilities beginning Wednesday.

Effective Wednesday, two family/support people will be allowed to visit patients in intensive care units, critically ill patients in the emergency department, and for labour and birth.

In a release, Nova Scotia Health says the changes will allow more opportunities for family caregivers and primary support persons to support patients in the hospital, where it is feasible and safe to do so within public health guidelines.

Further easing of restrictions will be announced in alignment with the province’s reopening plan, and consider several factors including COVID-19 cases, number of hospital and ICU admissions and vaccination rates.

During Phase 2 (earliest date June 16), visitor restrictions will ease further to allow:

  • One designated family/support person for all inpatients.
  • One designated family/support person for patients in emergency departments.
  • Three designated support people at a time for palliative patients and others nearing end-of-life.

During Phase 3 (earliest date June 30), restrictions would ease further to allow:

  • Two designated family/support person for inpatients.
  • Four designated support people at a time for palliative patients and others nearing end-of-life (private room and at the discretion of healthcare team).

During Phase 4, (starting when the province moves to Phase 4 of the reopening plan), restrictions would ease further to allow:

  • One designated family/support person for ambulatory appointments.

N.S. health says restrictions for each phase could change and will be confirmed at the time of implementation. 

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.

  • Alderney Gate Public Library (60 Alderney Dr., Dartmouth), from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Centennial Arena (27 Vimy Ave., Halifax) from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Centre 200 (481 George St, Sydney), from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Cineplex Cinemas Bridgewater (349 Lahave St., Bridgewater) 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