Pedestrians cross Prince Street at Market Street in downtown Halifax on a bright afternoon in June 2021. There isn't much traffic, and cars are parked on both sides of the street, which displays do not enter signs in this direction. On the left is the Prince George Hotel (which has great pillows!) and on the right is part of the Convention Centre. Just beyond that on the right is the Carleton, with its cheery yellow exterior. In the distance you can see the currently empty lot in front of the harbour, and on the water there are two seadoos.
Pedestrians cross Prince Street in downtown Halifax in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

Nova Scotia announced 14 new cases of COVID-19 today (Thursday, June 17).

Twelve of the new cases are in the Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — 11 are close contacts of previously reported cases and one is under investigation.

One of the new cases is the Eastern Zone and is a close contact, and one of the new cases is in the Western Zone and is related to travel.

There are now 97 known active cases in the province; six people are in hospital with the disease, three of whom are in ICU; 9 people are considered newly recovered today.

On Wednesday night, Nova Scotia announced a new school-based case connected to Prospect Road Elementary in Hatchet Lake. That school will be closed to students until June 21.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said there has been no further spread, to his knowledge, related to the government’s school-based case mistake earlier this week.

On Monday night, the province announced two cases connected to Joseph Howe Elementary. The next day, after that school was closed for cleaning and students sent home, the province announced those cases were in fact at St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary.

“The mistake was that we, late in the evening had identified and we weren’t able to validate the right name of the school, but since then all the right things are happening with the school, communication to the school community, and no additional cases at this point, that I’m aware of, have been identified,” Strang said.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union issued an op-ed on Thursday calling on the province to apologize for the mistake:

The failure to close the correct school sent students and staff at SJAM back into a building where no deep cleaning had been conducted, resulting in several hours of potential exposure before contact tracing had been completed.

As the day proceeded, students and staff identified as close contacts were pulled, in real time, from their class, while those remaining in those classrooms looked on and left to wonder whether they were next. One can only imagine the fear children and staff in that position experienced as a result.

Staff and students not identified as close contacts were kept in the building for the remainder of the day in cobbled together groups, violating the supposed protection of cohorting/class bubbles, rather than seeing the entire school closed until a deep cleaning could take place over two days. SJAM parents received notice after lunch that the wrong school had been closed. Many had to leave work on short notice to pick up children identified as close contacts.

School staff were placed in the impossible position of having to communicate with families about an error they were not responsible for and answer pointed questions without having the information or details to address parents’ legitimate concerns for the safety and health of their children.

Meanwhile, as all this was happening, families at Joseph Howe were not updated for much of the day, were left scrambling to find child care and book urgent COVID-19 tests. I’m certain they felt a deep sense of relief when the mistake was finally corrected.

Asked whether there has been any spread in schools since they reopened, Strang said there has, but it’s been limited.

“A few of our cases in the last couple of days who were identified, close contacts of previous cases, a few of them are students who have been identified in the same classroom, have been isolated and are testing and now they’re testing positive,” Strang said. “But the fact that they’re testing positive as they’re isolating means there’s been no further exposure.”

Much of Thursday’s briefing was dominated by questions about New Brunswick’s move to open up to travel from people outside of the province (with proof of vaccination) on Thursday morning, well before Nova Scotia’s plan to open to the other Atlantic Canadian provinces on June 24.

Premier Iain Rankin said the decision took him by surprise.

“I hope to have strong border control as they start to open up earlier than the rest of Atlantic Canada. It was my view that we could have had free travel throughout the Atlantic region, with no restrictions in place. And that was an agreement of three out of the four [Atlantic] provinces,” Rankin said.

“Unfortunately, I was surprised that their risk tolerance is different than that. So we’ll be prepared by June 23 when we open up. We’re discussing now what measures we’re going to need to have in place.”

Rankin said he was meeting with Atlantic premiers Thursday night and they’d be discussing vaccine passports.

Nova Scotia currently plans to open to the rest of Canada July 14.

Click here to see Nova Scotia’s reopening plan.

Here are the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (today at 8.6) since March 28, the last day Nova Scotia had zero new daily cases:

Here is the active caseload since March 28:


Vaccination

Yesterday, 19,938 doses of vaccine were administered; a total of 735,008 doses have been administered; of those, 66,248 were second doses. As of end of day yesterday, 68.8% of the entire population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Strang said Thursday that Nova Scotia is on track to get 75% of the population fully vaccinated much earlier than originally planned — by early to mid-August, rather than October.

On supply, Strang said there is a decrease is the expected supply of Pfizer over the next month, but there is an increase in the supply of Moderna. He urged people not to wait for a specific vaccine for their second dose, but take whichever one, Pfizer of Moderna, they can get first.

People 12 years old and older can book a vaccination appointment here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccine clinic should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.


Demographics

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 44 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 7 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 9 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 0 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 0 in the West Hants Community Health Network
Total: 62

Eastern Zone
• 26 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 0 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 27

Northern Zone
• 1 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 3 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 0 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 4

Western Zone
• 2 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 2 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 0 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 4


Testing

A woman gets swabbed at one of the rapid testing sites. Photo: Lisa Barrett

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 5,977 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the rapid-testing pop-up sites.

You do not need a health card to get tested.

Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites (see map below); results usually within 20 minutes. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Thursday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Shelburne Community Centre, noon-7pm

Friday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Shelburne Community Centre, noon-7pm

Saturday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Chester Legion, noon-7pm

Sunday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Chester Legion, noon-7pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.

You can also get PCR testing at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here. Appointments can be made for the IWK, or for various locations in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).


Potential exposure advisories

Public Health only issues potential exposure advisories when they think they may not have been able to contact all close contacts at that locale. The large majority of potential exposure sites never make it onto a public advisory.

The following potential COVID exposure advisories were issued last night:

Anyone who worked at or visited the following location on the specified dates and times should visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access, or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

For the following location, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result, as are the other members of your household.

  • Dollarama – Sterling Mall (3 Sterling Road, Glace Bay) on June 13 between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 27.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, any passengers who were on the following transit routes for at least 15 minutes on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating, however, you are asked to get retested 6-8 and 12-14 days after this exposure. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

  • Transit Cape Breton Route #01B (Sydney – Cape Breton University – Dominion – Glace Bay)which runs from Sydney to Glace Bay, on June 15 between 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 29.
  • Transit Cape Breton Route #01A (Sydney – Cape Breton University – Dominion – Glace Bay)which runs from Glace Bay to Sydney, on June 15 between 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 29.

We’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get information about each site.


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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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