Canada

N.S. reports one new case of COVID-19 as record testing continues; more variant cases identified

HALIFAX — Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Seven previously reported cases are now considered recovered, as the number of active cases in the province has dropped to 29.

Tuesday’s new case was identified in the province’s Northern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case.

VARIANTS IDENTIFIED

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia health reported that two previously reported cases have been identified as variant strains of COVID-19 by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

N.S. health says two more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., and five more cases of the 501.V2 variant, first identified in South Africa, were identified in cases reported last month.

The two cases of the B.1.1.7 variant were identified in the Western zone and Central zone, and are connected to a previously reported case of the B.1.1.7 variant. The province says one case is resolved and the other is self-isolating.

The five cases of the 501.V2 variant were all located in the province’s Central zone. One case is related to travel and the other four cases are household contacts of the traveller. The case related to travel is now considered resolved, the other four cases remain in self-isolation.

“At this point, there is no indication that we have community spread from any of these clusters of variant cases,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

This brings the total number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in Nova Scotia to eight and the 501.V2 variant to six.

N.S. CASE DATA

There have been 1,643 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia since the pandemic began. Of those, 1,549 are now considered recovered. There have been 65 deaths, leaving 29 active cases remaining.

There are currently four people in hospital due to COVID-19, with two patients currently in intensive care.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 5,146 tests on Monday, a new single day record for the province. The previous record was set just two days prior, with 4,839 tests conducted on Saturday. The province has completed 343,263 tests since the pandemic began.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs processed 12,000 COVID-19 tests between Friday and Sunday, with eight positive cases identified. 

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: 99 cumulative cases (1 active cases)
  • Central Zone: 1,328 cumulative cases (22 active cases)
  • Northern Zone: 130 cumulative cases (2 active case)
  • Eastern Zone: 86 cumulative cases (4 active cases)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to March 7, 2021.

VACCINE UPDATE

Nova Scotia health says the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is on track, and pharmacy clinics will begin next week.

“In a few short months we have set up clinics for health-care workers, in long-term care, in the community and soon, vaccines will be available in pharmacies,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a news release. “We are taking a measured and steady approach to getting vaccines into the arms of Nova Scotians as quickly as possible.”

Four prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23.

Public health says the pharmacy prototype clinics will help inform any changes in how vaccine is delivered through pharmacies before expanding to other locations in April. Those eligible to receive the vaccine through one of these initial clinics will receive an invitation to participate from their pharmacy.

The province’s vaccination plan is also expanding to include anyone who works in a hospital and may come into contact with patients and community health-care providers who provide direct patient care. This includes:

  • doctors, nurses and continuing care assistants who work in community practice or provide care in the home
  • dentists, dental assistants and dental hygienists
  • pharmacists, pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians 

“In keeping with our age-based approach to vaccine rollout, health-care workers in the next group will receive their vaccine based on their age,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “We will begin with those who are age 60 and older and then work back in five-year age groups until these health-care workers have been immunized.”

Health-care workers in the next group will receive an invitation to schedule their appointment.

Four of the 10 community-based vaccination clinics opened for booking in Halifax, Sydney, Truro and New Minas on March 1. These clinics will start immunizing on March 8. Three more community COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth will also start booking on March 8 for clinics running March 15.

According to the province’s dashboard, 

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

As of March 2, 33,471 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far, with 12,891 people in Nova Scotia having received a second dose.

As of March 2, 27,596 doses have been administered to health-care workers, and 4,500 doses have been administered to long-term care residents.

The province has received a total of 61,980 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and are holding 8,670 in reserve for second doses and planned clinics.

“Our rollout is on track, still remains on track to immunize at least 70 per cent of Nova Scotians by the end of September,” said Strang.

PROVINCE ANNOUNCES $7-MILLION PLAN TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES

With restaurants, gyms, hair salons and other small businesses in the service sector struggling because COVID-19 restrictions, the province says it wanted to provide them some relief to recognize that they are “the lifeblood of Nova Scotia’s economy,” the province said in a news release.

On Tuesday, the province announced a Small Business Real Property Tax Rebate Program that gives qualified businesses a one-time rebate of a portion of their paid property taxes. Businesses that qualify can choose a rebate of $1,000 or 50 per cent of the commercial property taxes they pay for the final six months of the 2020-21 tax year.

“This is cash in the pockets for restaurants and other small businesses in the service sector,” Premier Iain Rankin said. “The rebate may be based on property taxes, but is designed to be used by business owners to support any aspect of their business, including hiring staff or paying down debt, paying utilities or ordering supplies. We understand and appreciate the sacrifices that restaurants and other businesses in the service sector have made to protect all Nova Scotians.”

The province says almost 3,300 businesses are eligible, including dine-in restaurants and drinking establishments; gym and fitness establishments; hair salons and barber shops, spas, nail salons, and body art establishments.

NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING

Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have attended 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
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion   

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