Irving Shipyard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

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Five more people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, bringing the total to 12.

All 12 cases are either people who travelled from other countries to Nova Scotia, or connected to those cases. They range in age from their 30s through their 70s.

The ongoing cascade of closures and restrictions continues:

The Nova Scotia Health Authority announced that visitors will no longer be allowed in hospitals, but:

• a designated person per patient is permitted in labour and delivery rooms;
• parent/guardian with pediatric patients;
• substitute decision makers as required for plan of care.

Health Minister Randy Delorey has announced the following changes through the end of June:

• the waiving of fees for retired doctors to be relicenced.

• to increase the numbers of nurses, the government increasing “opportunities for casuals, recent graduates, and retirees.” Delorey gave the example of people staffing the province’s 811 line: “to date, 26 RNs have completed their training… and 70 more are being trained.” As well, 811 is adding 11 triage assessors, and 17 more are in training.

• allowing doctors to provide care via telephone or videoconferencing “where appropriate as deemed by the physician.” Some doctors may have the technology to do so already, and they can use it immediately, but the province is also providing support for the technology. Asked how many doctors would use such technology, Delorey had no answer.

• employers are no longer allowed to require doctor sick notes from employees

• changes to pharmacy regulations that were announced last year have been speeded up and expanded. For example, the requirement that certain clinical services be conducted in person is waived, at pharmacists’ discretion

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the following actions:

• Personal services and fitness establishments such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and gyms are closed (gyms were already ordered closed).

• Still no government closure order for dentists (although the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia has already ordered closure) and physiotherapists yet, but they’re being looked at.

• All service providers funded through the provincial Department of Community Services’ Disability Support Program — including social enterprise, day programs, supportive employment programs for adults with disabilities — are closed. Families that rely on such services will be supported with respite care through the group homes.

On Monday, Irving Shipyard sent a notice to employees saying the shipyard would remain open (read the notice here). I asked the premier today why the Irving Shipyard, which employs about 1,300 people and which is funded almost entirely through government contracts, should remain open. McNeil’s response:

Obviously it’s a national government site, but we are in contact with the national government to ask what is happening on that site.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I have a question for Strang and MacNeil: We currently have a family member that works for the provincial government in an administrative position. She was told that she can’t work from home, even though her job can indeed be done from home. She has been going to work and developed a dry cough two days ago. She was immediately told to go home for 14 days and is now working from home. We are concerned that she may have developed Covid19 but she can’t be tested because she hasn’t knowingly been in contact with anyone who has travelled. I visited the Nova Scotia Covid19 information web site and completed their Covid19 assessment tool and the only people being tested are people that have travelled or people that have been in contact with people that have travelled. My question is this: It is now common knowledge by health experts that this virus can be transmitted asymptomatically. We don’t always know if we’ve been in contact with someone who has travelled. Why is the province testing only people that have travelled or people that KNOWINGLY were around people that travelled?

  2. I’ve listened to the daily press conferences each day and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by the statements and responses to media questions by Strang and McNeil.
    1. Why are they not disclosing the mysterious ‘event’ that took place where the virus was allegedly spread. They state privacy concerns but telling the public what the event was does not violate anybody’s privacy…..the public needs to know what this event was so that they can calculate their own risk of exposure.
    2. The question of why government will not mandate that landlords can’t evict people – McNeil farts and tap-dances around this question. As usual, he doesn’t want to piss off his business overlords.
    3. The issue of people coming back from March break trips – Strang minimizes this and lectures us about tattling on our neighbours and friends. While nobody appreciates a busy-body…..this is a serious matter and while he is telling us all to stay home to keep from spreading this, he is also sending the message that it’s not a big deal if people don’t comply.
    4. They advise people that they should work from home….but I know Provincial and health care employees that are being mandated to go to work yet their jobs could easily be done from home.
    As each day goes by and I watch these press conferences, I am feeling less and less confident that our Provincial authorities have a handle on this situation.

    1. re “Why are they not disclosing the mysterious ‘event’ that took place where the virus was allegedly spread. They state privacy concerns but telling the public what the event was does not violate anybody’s privacy…..the public needs to know what this event was so that they can calculate their own risk of exposure.”

      McNeil was taking questions from the public on a CBC call-in yesterday and somebody challenged him on this very issue. He began mumbling some evasive bullshit when all of a sudden the sound was cut. When it came back, that was the end of that. How convenient.

      It’s a good question and if there is a credible answer, they haven’t shared it. Hard to see how privacy could trump the critical public interest in knowing what that event was.

  3. I am sure grocery store employees are at much greater risk than shipyard workers. Not to mention the risk to healthcare workers.

    1. Access to food is a necessity. Without healthcare workers people will die. What dire costs are associated with suspending shipbuilding during a public health emergency to prevent spread of the virus?