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Twelve more people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 122. Three people are in hospital, and seven have recovered.

I’ll be publishing daily charts to track the progression of the disease and the response to it. Today’s charts:

Number of new known cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia by date

Total number of known cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia by date

Number of people tested for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia by date

Total number of people tested for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia by date:

I’ll create new daily charts as the metrics become more meaningful — active cases, recoveries, use of ICU beds and ventilators, and, alas, deaths.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer, said that none of the new cases announced today or yesterday are connected to the community events for which warnings have been issued — the eye clinic, hockey tournament, St. Patrick’s Day party, or basketball tournament.

Community spread

Strang said that investigation is still ongoing for some cases, but where case investigations are complete, he can say that all of the positive results so far are related to travel or to previous cases. “At this time, no cases show clear evidence of community spread,” said Strang. “But we all need to be prepared that this will happen, and it may be happening right now with our expanded testing.”

Strang explained what criteria are used to determine “community spread”:

Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang, at a COVID-19 briefing Sunday, March 29, 2020. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia.

If we can directly link someone to travel or a known case, and we go back two levels of separation — so if somebody was directly in contact with somebody who travelled, or if they were in contact with somebody who then that other person was in contact with someone who had travelled, that’s two levels of separation.

As long as we can make those links with those two levels of separation, we know it’s not community spread.

If we get three levels of separation, so a contact of a contact of a contact, or we just can’t explain how they got exposed, then we will come to the conclusion that it’s community spread.

We can only do that when we finish the investigation of each case, and as I said, some of our cases there is concern that it might be community spread because of what we know about it, but we cannot make that firm conclusion until we finish our investigation.

Elder care facilities

Over the weekend, it was announced that three people who work at elder care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19. The facilities are:

• Magnolia residential care home in Enfield
• R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish
• Lewis Hall, a private retirement living community in Dartmouth

The Magnolia facility was announced today, and the other two yesterday.

As of now, no residents and no other employees are showing symptoms, but some residents have been put into self-isolation as a precaution.

Strang said that some people were tested at R.K. MacDonald and Lewis Hall, and that all those tests have come back negative. “The staff are being put off for self-isolaton for 14 days. Residents in the facilities are being grouped and separated from the rest of the facility, what we are calling cohorting, and they are being monitored very closely. We now have a directive that in all long-term care facilities, residents need to have their temperatures checked twice a day. And in the three facilities where residents may have been exposed, they’re being cohorted and even more closely monitored. If they become symptomatic, we will test them again.”

Prisons and residential care facilities

I used my question opportunity to first ask Strang about John Scoville’s apparent claim that people are safer in jail than they would be out in the broader community. El Jones wrote about this issue here, and included Strang’s response to my question.

I then asked Premier Stephen McNeil a follow-up question to an issue I had raised with Community Services Minister Kelly Regan on March 19. Here’s our exchange:

Bousquet: I’ve asked before about assisted living complexes, where up to 900 people with disabilities are living in these centres. And quite a large number of them want to and are ready to go to community housing, but there’s no funding for them to make that move. You’ve made millions of dollars, rightly, available for other COVID responses; have you directed any new resources to helping those people move out of those facilities?

McNeil: Well, what the reality is, Tim, we’re following the advice of Dr. Strang to ensure that we follow public health advice to protect ourselves and to protect Nova Scotians. We will continue to make sure that all of our partners and facilities that are taking care of Nova Scotians follow that advice, that we provide them with the supports required, as we continue to meet our objective that every Nova Scotian who wants to and can live independently can have that opportunity. And we’re working towards that as you know over the last number of years, but we are now focused on how do we make certain that we follow public health advice to ensure that we keep our population healthy.

I’ll take that as “no.”

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

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  1. • Lewis Hall, a private retirement living community in Dartmouth

    Tim, I don’t blame you for this. I assume it’s Shannex wording straight from the glossy brochure. But it should be clarified, this is a Shannex nursing home, a wing of the Parkland complex on Baker Drive. It’s my understanding that at least part of it is for dementia patients. Not sure why one is a “nursing home” and one is a “private retirement living community.” Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but …

    1. And at 8.45 pm the black plastic at one gate had been severed and the ‘Caution’ tape thrown on the ground. Some people just don’t get it.
      Nice to see McNeil is angry at people who ignore an order which is intended to help citizens.