The Northwood nursing home on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner / Tim Bousquet

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The COVID-19-related deaths of seven more residents of the Northwood nursing home were announced over the weekend, bringing the total number of deaths from the disease at the facility to 18.

That’s three-quarters of all 24 COVID-19-related deaths in Nova Scotia.

The disease may take a few days to express itself, but the first identified case of COVID-19 at Northwood was announced on April 5, when one staff person tested positive. A second staff person’s positive test result was announced on April 7; the same day, it was also announced that two residents had contracted the disease.

Since then, it has spread widely through the long-term care portion of the Northwood facility.

On April 19, Randy Delorey, the Minister of Health, issued an order giving the Nova Scotia Health Authority to redeploy staff — “whether permanent or temporary, unionized or non-unionized, contract or otherwise engaged in provision of services in the NSHA as needed” — to long-term care facilities, in order to address the situation at Northwood.

The same day, the NSHA announced an emergency plan for Northwood:

  • NSHA and Department of Health and Wellness onsite at Northwood to support its response
  • establishing a Northwood COVID-19 Recovery Unit at a local hotel to care for recovered residents; first resident moved today, April 19
  • equipment to support recovery unit donated by Shannex, including electric beds, tables and other supplies
  • support from many organizations to ensure sufficient staff to care for residents, manage operations and relieve current staff. Includes NSHA, college and university students in related programs, Victorian Order of Nurses, Red Cross, Emergency Health Services, government staff and staff from other long-term care facilities
  • redeploying the Halifax Infirmary COVID-19 unit to Northwood to treat COVID-19 positive residents onsite
  • establishing a team onsite to conduct testing for COVID-19

Despite those measures, as of today, the number of COVID-19 cases at Northwood has grown to 249, Northwood announced this afternoon:

Facility cases (total): 249
Resident cases: 178
Staff cases: 71
Deaths: 18
Recoveries: 5 in the recovery unit

That means about one in five of all known COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia are related to Northwood.

Including Northwood, there are 292 people (197 residents and 95 staff) in 10 nursing homes in the province who have or have had COVID-19. The Department of Health does not further break that figure down into deaths and recoveries, but by the Examiner’s count, at least 19 residents of nursing homes have died with the disease.

One other person’s COVID-19-related death was announced this weekend — a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions who lived in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Western Zone (basically, everything west of HRM, including Windsor). He was not in a nursing home.

Despite the grim news at Northwood, the number of new confirmed cases in Nova Scotia has dropped to just eight yesterday, the lowest figure since March:

Yesterday’s new cases bring the total of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia to 873. Thirteen people are in hospital, three of whom are in ICU; 439 people have recovered; and 24 people have died. That means the the number of active cases has declined slightly, to 410:

There has been a decline in the number of tests processed at the QE2 lab yesterday as resources are more focused on Northwood — 673 tests were processed yesterday, but some of the results are pending or otherwise haven’t led to conclusive results, so the tracking of testing with conclusive NS results shows an additional 504 yesterday:

Still, overall, positive tests as a percentage of total testing sits consistently at about 3%:

Overall, 2.7% of Nova Scotians have been tested, which is the highest per capita rate of any province in the country.


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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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  1. I think it’s wonderful the curves are decreasing and everyone has made a concerted effort. That said Northwood was our keep, our citadel. If you asked anyone in healthcare which spot in the province needed not to have an outbreak it would have been Northwood. All the closures and distancing were moats and walls to keep the virus from Northwood. From that perspective we’ve failed.