Street art – graffiti with facial mask on the wall during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Jail, 811, and Clamar
Demographics
Testing
Vaccination
Schools
Potential exposure advisories

A record 182 new cases of COVID-19 are announced in Nova Scotia today (Thursday, May 6).

Of the new cases, 155 are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, 16 are in the Eastern Zone, seven are in the Northern Zone, and four are in the Western Zone.

According to a press release from the Department of Health and Wellness, the high numbers today are still reflective of a backlog in data entry:

As reported April 30, due to the volume of testing in the province, there was a backlog at the Nova Scotia Health Authority lab and in public health’s case data entry into Panorama. The backlog at the lab has been resolved. The lab is now processing tests within 48 to 72 hours. Public health also continues to work through the backlog in data entry into Panorama and contacting new cases, which is expected to be resolved in the coming days.

Given high testing volumes, it may take Nova Scotians up to five to seven days to learn test results via the 1-844 COVID-19 test results phone line. People tested due to a potential exposure, because they have symptoms, or were advised by public health to self-isolate until receiving test results, should continue to self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases and those who were present at high-risk exposure locations are required to self-isolate for a full 14 days, regardless of test result.

Some people have waited up to two weeks to get test results.

Health Minister Zach Churchill acknowledged today that the health system is “strained” and is struggling to do contact tracing associated with the high volume of positive tests. Churchill said he is working with Nova Scotia Health to find a solution.

Churchill said the pop-up testing sites (see Testing, below) have identified about 200 positive cases so far.

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 1,309 known active cases in the province. Forty-five people are in hospital with the disease, and nine of those are in ICU.

Here are the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (today at 143) for the current outbreak, dating from March 28, the last day Nova Scotia had zero new daily cases:

And here’s the graph of daily new cases and the seven-day rolling average 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 current outbreak:

Here is the active caseload since the start of the second wave on Oct. 1:

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


Jail, 811, and Clarmar

The renovated North Unit day room at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Halifax Examiner has learned that an employee at the Burnside Jail has tested positive for COVID, and as a result all prisoners are under lockdown. Prisoners are being tested today, and they’ll remain in lockdown until a negative test result comes back. We’ll have more on this later today.

Also, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) reports that two employees working at the province’s 811 call centre have tested positive for COVID. There are additionally a “number of workers awaiting tests and test results,” according to an NSGEU press release.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean in the release. “The Premier and Dr. Strang have called on all businesses who are able to allow their workers to work from home. They need to lead by example here, and allow these workers to move off-site to ensure their own safety and ensure the continuity of this important service.”

And the cases announced today include two new cases at the Clarmar Residential Care Facility in Dartmouth — one employee and one resident. This is the third staff member and third resident at the residential care facility to test positive. Jennifer Henderson wrote about Clarmar’s dismal regulatory track record on Tuesday.


Demographics

Today’s reported 182 cases are in the following demographics:
• 46 aged 19 or younger (30 girls or women, 16 boys or men)
• 67 aged 20-39 (40 women, 27 men)
• 52 aged 40-59 (26 women, 26 men)
• 16 aged 60-79 (10 women, 6 men)
• 1 aged 80 or over (a man)

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 390 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 475 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 107 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 34 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 5 is in the West Hants Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 77 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 20 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 3 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 18 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 7 in the Pictou Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 3 in the Cumberland Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 15 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 14 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 7 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network in the Western Zone

One-hundred-and-thirty four cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network, but they are in the Central Zone.


Testing

Volunteers at one of the pop-up testing sites. Photo: Lisa Barrett

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 7,733 tests yesterday. This figure does not include the tests taken at the various pop-up testing sites.

There is now some asymptomatic PCR testing in the Halifax area, but for the next few days, the only people elsewhere in the province who should be booking PCR tests are the following:

  • anyone with symptoms
  • anyone who has been notified that they are a close contact of a known case
  • anyone who has been at an exposure location
  • anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Everyone not in those categories or in the Halifax area should instead go to a rapid-testing pop-up site.

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
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
St Andrews Community Centre (Halifax), noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm

Friday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
St Andrews Community Centre (Halifax), noon-7pm
Keshen Goodman Library, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm
Tancook Recreation Centre, Big Tancook Island, 12:45-5:30pm

Saturday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Keshen Goodman Library, noon-7pm

Sunday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Keshen Goodman Library, noon-7pm

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

Those who fall into the categories that require PCR testing can get tests at the Public Health Mobile Units or the Nova Scotia Health labs.

Public Health Mobile Units are available only for pre-booked appointments for PCR tests for people of all ages (results within three days). There are currently no mobile units scheduled.

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 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)
Canada Games Centre
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
Colchester Legion Stadium (14 Lorne Street, Truro)
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
Membertou Entertainment Centre
Northside General Hospital (North Sydney)
Sacred Heart Community Health Centre (Cheticamp)
Strait Richmond Hospital (Evanston)
Victoria County Memorial Hosptial (Baddeck)

Western Zone
Acadia Festival Theatre
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 Mariners Centre
Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre (228 Main Street)


Vaccination

Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse with the COVID-19 unit at the QEII, was the first person in Nova Scotia to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Yesterday, 12,508 doses of vaccine were administered. So far, a total of 347,283 have been administered; of those, 37,346 have been second doses.

Today, Health Minister Zach Churchill announced that the Pfizer vaccine will be made available to children 12 years old and older. That means that anyone over 12 who wants a shot will get one by the end of June.

For now, all people who are 50 or over can book an appointment for Pfizer or Moderna. People who are from 40 to 54 can book an appointment for the AstraZeneca. You can book an appointment here.


Schools

The current status of schools:

All schools in the province are closed until May 12.

Derek Mombourquette, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, said today that although on-line learning is most likely to continue for the next two weeks, he hasn’t given up on teachers and students returning to class in-person this school year.

“The best place for kids is in the classroom,” said Mombourquette. “All decisions will be based on the epidemiology. If the community is safe and the epidemiology is such that the kids can be in school, that’s where they belong, but we are not there yet.” 


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):

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times for at least 15 minutes 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.

  • Lacewood Eyes on Optometry, front foyer area (362 Lacewood Drive, Halifax) on April 29 between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 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 13.
  • Mumford Eyes on Optometry, front foyer area (6960 Mumford Rd, Halifax) on April 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 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 14.
  • Gateway Meat Market (667 Main Street, Dartmouth) on May 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 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 17.
  • Canning District Lions Club – Bingo (1000 Seminary Avenue, Canning) on April 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 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 8.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times for at least 15 minutes are required to self-isolate, get tested and continue self-isolating for 14 days, even with a negative test result.

  • Queens Place Emera Centre (gym only) at 50 Queens Place Drive in Liverpool on April 25 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 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 9.

Anyone who was on the following flights in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en 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.

  • Air Canada 8780 travelling on April 29 from Montreal (8:00 a.m.) to Halifax (10:24 a.m.). Passengers in rows 1-4, seats A, D and F are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 13.
  • Air Canada 624 travelling on April 28 from Toronto (9:18 p.m.) to Halifax (12:03 a.m. on April 29). Passengers in rows 17-23, seats A, B, C, and D are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 12.
  • WestJet 232 travelling on April 30 from Calgary (9:30 a.m.) to Halifax (5:12 p.m.). Passengers in rows 19-25, seats A, B, C, and D are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 14.

I’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 click on the icons to get information about each site. Note: in HRM, potential exposure sites that are considered low-risk for transmission 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.

With files from Jennifer Henderson.


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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. Why are transit users who can’t stay six feet apart from others in a shelter while it’s raining or from other passengers on a bus, be considered to be at such a low risk that there were no potential contact advisories posted for us today? Am I really less likely to be in contact with someone than I would be if I’m shopping at a Meat Market? That’s ridiculous!

      1. Thanks Tim. When there were none listed in the earlier advisory, which I thought only comes out once a day, I thought that it was related to the Public Health decision to stop notifications in instances where there was minor opportunity for transmission. I’m a little embarrassed but relieved. I caught it too, later in the evening.