Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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

Sixty-six new cases of COVID-19 are announced in Nova Scotia today (Monday, April 26). This is again a daily new case record high, exceeding yesterday’s 63 cases.

Fifty-eight of the new cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, five cases are in the Eastern Zone, and one case is in the Northern Zone

Because the numbers are so large, Public Health is no longer able to provide the cause of cases (i.e., travel related, close contacts, etc.) by the time the release comes out.

There are now 323 known active cases in the province. Five people are in hospital with the disease, and two of those are in ICU.

Here are the daily new case numbers and seven-day rolling averages (today at 42.4) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

Here’s the graph of daily new case numbers from the start of the pandemic in March 2020:

Here is the active caseload for the second wave:

And here is the active caseload from the start of the pandemic in March 2020:

The active caseload in Nova Scotia since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.


Variants

There was no update today for new variant cases. (If it comes, I’ll update this post) So far, there have been 73 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 12 cases of the B.1.351 variant, and one case of the P.1 variant.


Demographics

Today’s cases are in the following demographics:
• 20 aged 19 or younger (fifteen girls or women, five boys or men)
• 26 aged 20-39 (eleven women, fifteen men)
• 15 aged 40-59 (eight women, seven men)
• 5 aged 60-79 (four women, one man)
• 0 aged 80 or over

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 91 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 125 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 18 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 6 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 3 is in the West Hants Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 31 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 is in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 6 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 6 in the Pictou Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 5 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 3 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 4 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Twenty-three cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network, but they are in the Central Zone.


Testing

Rapid testing at a pop-up site. Photo: Lisa Barrett

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 11,335 tests yesterday, which is more than 4,000 more than the previous one-day record; this does not include tests completed at the various pop-up testing 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:

Monday
East Dartmouth Community Centre, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex (first floor), Cape Breton University, Sydney, 2-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
East Dartmouth Community Centre, noon-7pm
Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex (first floor), Cape Breton University, Sydney, 10am-6pm

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

Public Health Mobile Units are available for drop-in and pre-booked appointments (symptomatic people and people who have been at the potential exposure sites must pre-book) for PCR tests for people of all ages (results within three days) at the following sites:

Monday
• Saint Vincent de Paul Church (320 Flying Cloud Dr., Darmouth), 9:30am-7pm
• Lake Echo Fellowship Baptist Church (17 Peter Ct., Mineville), 9:30am-7pm

Tuesday
• Lake Echo Fellowship Baptist Church (17 Peter Ct., Mineville), 8:30am-6pm

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

Central Zone
Bayers Lake (41 Washmill Lake Drive)
Burnside/Dartmouth Crossing (77 Finnian Row)
Dartmouth General Hospital Drive-Thru (No Taxis)
Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital
Mayflower Curling Club
Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital
Saint Mary’s University (Homburg Centre)
Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital (Musquodoboit Harbour)
Zatzman Sportsplex

Northern Zone
Truro (625 Abenaki Road, with drive-thru at 600 Abenaki Road)
Truro Farmers Market Drive-Thru testing
Amherst (34 Prince Arthur Street)
Pictou County Assessment Center (678 East River Rd, New Glasgow)

Eastern Zone
Antigonish Market Square
Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre (Neils Harbour)
Eastern Memorial Hospital (Canso)
Grand Lake Road Fire Hall (Sydney)
Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital
Northside General Hospital (North Sydney)
Sacred Heart Community Health Centre (Cheticamp)
Strait Richmond Hospital (Evanston)
Victoria County Memorial Hosptial (Baddeck)

Western Zone
Acadia University Club
Berwick Firehall
Digby Station (7 Birch Street)
Liverpool PAC (157 School Street)
Roseway Hospital (Shelburne)
South Shore Assessment Centre (215 Dominion Road, Bridgewater)
Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre (228 Main Street)


Vaccination

Registered nurse Natalie White holds a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a syringe at a clinic at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

I’m still waiting on the latest vaccination figures; I’ll update this post when I have.

People who are 55 or over can book an appointment for any of the vaccines —  Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca. You can book an appointment here.


Schools

School buses are seen in the parking lot of a hockey arena in Dartmouth on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Update, 2:30pm: all public schools in the HRM area affected by heightened restrictions are closed to students effective tomorrow:

All public schools in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and surrounding areas will close Tuesday, April 27, and move to at-home learning beginning Thursday, April 29.

Out of an abundance of caution, the province is mandating that students in public schools within the restricted areas in HRM identified by public health learn from home.

Families will receive an update from their school centre or principal later today. More information about a return to school date will be released Friday, May 7.

The decision impacts all pre-primary children and grades primary to 12 public school students in Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE), as well as Conseil scolaire acadian provincial (CSAP) schools and schools in the Enfield, Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke areas with the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education (CCRCE).

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union is calling for the closure of all schools in HRM:

NSTU concerned about in-person learning in regions with community spread

With growing numbers of school COVID-19 cases along with confirmation of community spread inside the HRM and potentially other regions, the NSTU questioning why public health has not advised government to pivot to full remote learning at more schools.

“All of us recognize that in-person learning is far superior to virtual learning and we’ve been fortunate to have had eight months of uninterrupted public education inside our provincial bubble. However, circumstances have changed with the emergence of new and more dangerous variants. Our top priority must be stopping the spread and saving lives.”

Wozney adds: “Where community spread is present, schools are not healthy learning environments right now. Teachers, parents, and students are scared. There have been 28 schools with COVID-19 cases in just a week. Hundreds, if not thousands of students, teachers and their families are currently required to self-isolate and it’s growing by the day. This is not sustainable.”

The NSTU believes that with the emergence of new variants and given what’s recently transpired in Ontario and across Western Canada, it’s in the best interest of schools and the communities they serve to proactively stop the spread of the virus. Last week schools in Dartmouth and its surrounding communities were closed to in-person learning for two weeks. The NSTU believes it’s time to take the same approach in other regions. NSTU is confident that our teachers are well prepared to provide quality remote learning during the circuit-break measure.

“Schools are the most interconnected workplaces in our province. If you don’t have healthy schools, you don’t have healthy communities, and vice versa. I know this is an extremely challenging time for families,  which is why government needs to make the tough choices required to protect lives and beat back this virus as quickly as possible,” says Wozney.

But the IWK is saying schools should remain open:

As COVID-19 activity in Nova Scotia has increased, there have correspondingly been cases in those who attend schools. This is not unexpected given that disease activity in the community is reflected across all ages, including school-aged children.

We underline the importance of maintaining face-to-face in-classroom learning in Nova Scotia and feel that moving to at-home learning should be a last resort. Across Canada and internationally, schools have been shown to be areas of low to minimal disease transmission and do not amplify community spread. Additionally, teachers and family members of children attending school remain at the same risk of disease as compared to the general population. Community gatherings, especially with close family and friends, are activities that present much higher risk for transmission.

Over the past year, it has been demonstrated that closing schools adversely impacts the health and wellbeing of children, and experts have suggested that these effects may be felt for years to come. Children’s mental health has suffered across all ages, especially amongst teenagers and adolescents, while younger children are at risk of missing important developmental phases in terms of speech, language, and socialization. Children with underlying learning disorders are significantly affected as they may not have access to important services and resources.

We must also consider issues of equity when schools are closed; some children rely on school for a nourishing meal, while others have medical care delivered in the school setting when it is difficult for it to be completed at home. Finally, child/youth maltreatment has increased during the pandemic, and when children are not in the presence of teachers or other trusted adults, this can go unidentified for longer periods of time.

Keeping children in schools should remain a priority within education. Mitigating factors such as masking and outdoor learning when possible can be maximized in addition to physical distancing and hand hygiene, to create a safe environment for all.

If, though, as a last resort, in class learning is suspended because of the pandemic, we hope that all schools are prepared to pivot to online learning in a timely fashion.

Dr. Andrew Lynk
Chief, Pediatrics
IWK Health
Member of the Provincial Pediatric Advisory Committee

I’ve added school-connected COVID cases to the potential exposure advisories map (see below).

The current status of schools:

Prince Andrew family of schools

Prince Andrew High and the feeders schools below are closed to students until May 10.
Caledonia Junior High
Admiral Westphal Elementary
Ian Forsyth Elementary
Michael Wallace Elementary
Ellenvale Junior High
Alderney Elementary
Brookhouse Elementary
Mount Edward Elementary
Portland Estates Elementary
Eric Graves Junior High
Bel Ayr Elementary
Mount Edward Elementary

Auburn Drive High family of schools

Auburn Drive High and the feeder schools below are closed to students until May 10.
Astral Drive Junior High
Astral Drive Elementary
Caldwell Road Elementary
Colby Village Elementary
Graham Creighton Junior High
Bell Park Academic Centre
Humber Park Elementary
Joseph Giles Elementary

Cole Harbour High family of schools

Cole Harbour High and the feeder schools below are closed to students until May 10.
Ross Road (Grades P to 9)
Nelson Whynder
Atlantic View
Sir Robert Borden
Colonel John Stuart
George Bissett
Robert Kemp Turner

Dartmouth High family of schools

Dartmouth High and the feeder schools below are closed to students until May 10.
Bicentennial (Grades P to 9)
Crichton Park
Hawthorn Elementary
John Martin Junior High
Harbour View
John MacNeil
Shannon Park
Dartmouth South Academy (Grades P-8)
Hawthorn Elementary
South Woodside

Acadian schools

The following French schools are closed to students until May 10:
École secondaire Mosaïque
École du Carrefour
École Bois-Joli

Additional school closings
Bedford South School is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Bell Park Academic Centre is closed to students until Tuesday, April 27
Breton Education Centre is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Chebucto Heights Elementary is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Citadel High is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Cobequid Educational Centre is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Holland Road Elementary is closed to students until Wednesday, April 28
Joseph Howe Elementary is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Jubilee Elementary, Sydney Mines is closed to students until until Thursday, April 29
Oxford School is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Oyster Pond Academy is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Ross Road elementary is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
Shipyard Elementary is closed to students until Thursday, April 29
St. Catherine’s Elementary is closed to students until Wednesday, April 28
St. Joseph’s–Alexander McKay is closed to students until May 10


Potential exposure advisories

Last night, Public Health issued the following list of potential COVID exposure advisories (the release also contained a couple of corrections from previous releases; I’ve updated the potential exposure map to reflect those corrections):

Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations 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 COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations 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. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.
• La Frasca Cibi & Vini (5650 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) on April 19 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 3.
• Ocean Lane Bowling-Sports Bar (45 Lake Rd, Tatamagouche) on April 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 3.
• Wired Monk (5147 Morris St, Halifax) on April 19 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 3.
• The Country Bread Basket Bakery & Coffee Shop (629 Brule Point Rd, Tatamagouche) on April 20 between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 4.
• Jost Vineyards (48 Vintage Ln, Malagash) on April 20 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 4.
• Steak and Stein Family Restaurant (620 Portland St, Dartmouth) on April 21 between 5:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 5.
• Scotia Square Food Court (5201 Duke St, Halifax) on April 21 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and April 22 between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6.
• World Gym Dartmouth (114 Woodlawn Rd, Dartmouth) on April 14, 15 and 18 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and April 22 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6.
• Wellington Pizza & Seafood (4313 Nova Scotia Trunk 2, Wellington) on April 23 between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
• ProEdge Sports Conditioning Limited (36 Duke St, Bedford) on April 23 between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can click on the icons to get information about each site. I’ve also added school-connected cases to the map. Note: in HRM, potential exposure sites that are considered low-risk for transmission (e.g., grocery stores) are no longer subject to advisories; that’s because everyone in HRM is encouraged to get tested, whether they were at a potential exposure site or not.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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3 Comments

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  1. This Premier’s record of horrid environmental decisions ( Lafarge, Owls Head, clear cutting etc.) speaks to a level of willful ignorance that should scare every person in this province.

    1. Not sure what in the world this has to do with Covid as it is a totally different issue. There are a number of folks in the province who do not share your view of how the environmental issues have been handled (not me).