'We are seeing early signs of community spread': N.S. reports 25 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia Public Health officials reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 19 in Central Zone and Premier Iain Rankin is sounding the alarm about community spread as the number of active cases increases to 79.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nova Scotia Premier Rankin cancelled the world women's hockey championship, which was scheduled for next month in Halifax and Truro.
"I am very concerned with the rising number of cases in Nova Scotia, which are higher than we have seen in quite some time," Rankin said. "We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region."
Of the 25 new cases in Central Zone, four are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, public health wrote in a news release. "Nine are close contacts of previously reported cases, two of which were identified Tuesday at Dartmouth South Academy and Auburn Drive High. Six are under investigation, one of which was identified Tuesday at Mount Edward Elementary."
There are also three cases in the Northern Zone, one of which is related to travel outside of Canada. The other two cases are under investigation.
Public health says the other three new cases are in Eastern Zone and are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.
"One of the cases that is under investigation in Central Zone is a staff member at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre, a long-term care facility in Eastern Passage," the news release from public health states. "As a precaution, residents are being isolated and cared for in their rooms and the facility is closed to visitors and designated caregivers."
New cases announced Wednesday evening connected to Joseph Giles Elementary in Dartmouth and Bell Park Academic Centre in Lake Echo are also under investigation, public health said.
The schools will remain closed to students until next Tuesday to allow for a "deep cleaning."
"Out of an abundance of caution, public health is recommending that all students and staff be tested," public health wrote. "No self-isolation is required, unless people have been identified as a close contact by public health or have symptoms."
Nova Scotia is also reporting one additional case of COVID-19 connected to Shannon Park Elementary in Dartmouth.
The 25 new cases are the biggest jump since November when restrictions were brought in.
"There’s between five to 10 times as many cases we don’t know about yet just because this is such an easy virus from a spread point of view," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett.
The province’s top doctor had already warned of early signs of community spread in Halifax, Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, and Lawrencetown --- urging everyone to get tested.
"One of our current clusters was as a result of family and friends gathering with people who had recently come from Ontario," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "So, we need to enforce the quarantine piece but we need Nova Scotians to make sure that they are not choosing to socialize with people who are meant to be under quarantine.”
Public health says the solution is to get a test whether you have symptoms or not.
"We need to get high numbers of people without symptoms getting tested in order to cut this down at the knees," Barrett said.
Barrett also said she expects more restrictions to be coming . There is an update planned for Thursday afternoon where details are expected to be announced.