Nova Scotia health officials reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bumping the number of active cases up to 28.
All five new cases are located in the Central Zone.
One of the new cases was first reported Thursday night and involves a close contact of a positive case at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour, N.S.
Another case is also connected to a previously reported case.
The other three cases are still under investigation.
Since the beginning of November, there have been 51 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Nova Scotia.
NEW GATHERING LIMITS IN CENTRAL ZONE
Effective Monday, Nov. 23, new gathering limits and social restrictions will apply in most areas of the province’s Central zone.
“We are at a critical point in our province. If we don’t act now, it may be too late. That’s why we’re taking a targeted approach in the Central zone to contain the virus here and slow the spread,” said N.S. premier Stephen McNeil during Friday’s news update.
“While travel sparked our initial cases a few weeks ago, it is now social activity that is fanning the flames and causing the virus to circulate more widely. We are the beginning of community spread and it is now here, and rapidly becoming wide spread,” added Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
The new restrictions include:
- A limit of five people gathering in a close social group without physical distancing; down from 10.
- That limit includes households of more than five members who may only go outside the home in groups of five.
- A maximum of 25 people gathering with physical distancing for informed indoor and outdoor social events; down from 50.
- A maximum of 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity up to 100 people at indoor events run by recognized by a recognized business or organization; down from 200.
- A maximum of 150 people at outdoor events run by recognized by a recognized business or organization; down from 250.
- Adult day programs for seniors who live in the community will no longer be allowed.
The new gathering limits will apply in all of the Halifax Regional Municiaplity except the areas east of Porters Lake to Ecum Secum. The limits will also apply to the Enfield and Mount Uniacke areas in both HRM and Hants County.
The limits do not apply in Elmsdale and communities north of there.
The gathering limits will be in effect until at least Dec. 21, or until public health makes changes.
“Let’s call this what it is; we are having a problem with 18-35 year olds. They are going out when they feel sick, they are going out in large groups, and quite frankly different groups, and not distancing,” said McNeil during Friday’s news update. “They are living as if COVID doesn’t exist.”
NEW CONTACT TRACING RULES FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Also effective Monday, all restaurants and bars in the province will be required to collect names and phone numbers of all patrons for contact tracing.
McNeil announced Friday that beginning Nov. 23, all full-service restaurants and licensed establishments across the province must collect accurate contact information on each patron, including date and time of visit, name and phone number.
This data must be retained for four weeks from date of visit for contact-tracing purposes.
There is no end date for this requirement.
“Our restaurants and bars want to stay open but they agree we need to put in place some new measures to protect Nova Scotians and their employees. Effective Monday, if you go to a restaurant anywhere in the province, you will have to provide your name and phone number for contact tracing,” added McNeil.
TESTING FOR BAR STAFF
Also starting Monday, N.S. health will begin an asymptomatic testing strategy over a seven day period for all bar staff in Halifax.
Staff will receive information from their employer soon on how to arrange testing.
“COVID is a social virus – it likes social contact because that’s how it spreads. COVID-19 flourishes in close-contact settings,” said Strang. “That’s why we have to reduce our social circles and our gathering sizes outside of schools and the workplace. I know this will not be easy, but it’s an initial step to contain the community spread and avoid the potential to overwhelm our health-care system. It’s also why we will be testing bar staff in peninsular Halifax because they are now on the social frontlines of the pandemic and we need to keep them safe.”
RESTRICTIONS FOR LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY RESIDENTS
Residents of long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia will also have new restrictions effective Monday.
The following restrictions will apply to all long-term care facilities across the province from Nov. 23, to Dec. 21:
- residents can only leave their facilities for medical/dental appointments
- a registered designated caregiver can take a resident for a sight-seeing car ride but they cannot include additional passengers or stops for shopping, visits, etc., of any kind or use drive-thrus
- a facility can continue sight-seeing outings using their vehicles, but physical distancing is required, no other passengers are permitted in the vehicle and there are no stops of any kind including use of drive-thrus
“We appreciate that this is challenging for residents and their families, but we are doing this to protect them from the virus as our case numbers rise,” said Strang during Friday’s news update.
Long-term care facilities will still be allowed to have family member visitation and other social interaction.
“We know that visits with family and social interaction is critical for the well-being of these residents, and we need to allow this to happen for as long as we possibly can,” added Strang. “It’s unfortunate, but I am hearing too many stories of long-term care facilities that are not adopting the recommended public health actions. We are telling facilities they need to long after the care of the residents, not just their physical health but mental health as well.”
An additional restriction for seniors in the HRM-area will no long allow day programs for seniors who live in the community.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,384 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.
To date, Nova Scotia has had 126,446 negative test results and 1,160 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 1,067 cases are considered resolved and 65 people have died as a result of the novel coronavirus, leaving 28 active cases in the province.
There is no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
The province’s confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Sixty per cent of cases are female and 40 per cent are male.
There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.
The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.
- Western Zone: 58 cases
- Central Zone: 970 cases
- Northern Zone: 77 cases
- Eastern Zone: 55 cases
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Nov. 29.
TWO HALIFAX AREA SCHOOLS TO CLOSE FOR TWO WEEKS
Two Halifax-area schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be shut down for two weeks as a precaution.
Students who attend Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook, N.S., and Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour, N.S., will move to online learning while the schools are closed. The schools are slated to reopen on Dec. 7.
“We are doing this as a precautionary measure, but the reality is, we have COVID in these two schools and in the surrounding communities,” said Premier Stephen McNeil during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Nova Scotia public health confirmed Thursday evening that there is a second case of COVID-19 at Auburn Drive High School.
“The new case is a close contact of an earlier reported case at the school,” the province said in a news release.
Auburn Drive High School and its family of schools are closed for the day on Friday, Nov. 20. The family of schools includes:
- Astral Drive Elementary
- Astral Drive Junior High
- Bell Park Academic Centre
- Caldwell Road Elementary
- Colby Village Elementary
- Graham Creighton Junior High
- Humber Park Elementary
- Joseph Giles Elementary.
Friday is an assessment and evaluation day for students from pre-primary to Grade 9, so most students in these schools would have already been staying home.
POTENTIAL EXPOSURE WARNINGS
Nova Scotia Health hasn’t advised of any potential exposures on Friday as of 3 p.m., but one downtown Halifax bar says they have received notice of a potential exposure.
Julep Kitchen & Cocktails, located on Halifax’s Barrington St. said in a Facebook post Friday that they had been notified that a guest that was COVID-19 positive had visited the location between the hours of 6:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13.
On Thursday, Nova Scotia Health advised of nine potential exposures to COVID-19 at the following location in the Halifax area:
- Your Father’s Moustache (5686 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) on Nov. 13 between 6 p.m. and 9 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, Nov. 27.
- La Frasca Cibi & Vini (5650 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) on Nov. 13 between 7 p.m. and 11 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, Nov. 27.
- Moxie’s Grill and Bar (182 Chain Lake Drive, Bayers Lake) on Nov. 15 between 7:30 and 9:30 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, Nov. 29.
- Winners (206 Chain Lake Dr, Bayers Lake) on Nov. 15 between 3:45 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, Nov. 29.
- Telus (120 Susie Lake Crescent, Bayers Lake)on Nov. 15 between 3 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, Nov. 29.
- Chatters Hair Salon (194 Chain Lake Dr, Bayers Lake) on Nov. 15 between 2:45 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, Nov. 29.
- Ironstone Strength & Conditioning (2631 King Street, Halifax) on Nov.16 between 5:45 a.m. – 7:45 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, Nov. 30.
- GoodLife Fitness (41 Peakview Way, Larry Uteck) on Nov. 15 between 7 and 9:30 a.m., Nov. 16 between 8 and 10:30 a.m. and Nov. 17 between 8 and 10:30 a.m.It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 1.
- Superstore (1650 Bedford Hwy, Bedford) on Nov. 18 between 2 p.m. and 3:30 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, Dec. 2.
COVID ALERT APP
Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.
The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
LIST OF SYMPTOMS
Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose/nasal congestion
SELF-ISOLATION AND MANDATORY MASKS
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic region for non-essential reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days and must fill out a self-declaration form before coming to the province. Travellers must self-isolate alone, away from others. If they cannot self-isolate alone, their entire household must also self-isolate for 14 days.
Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not required to self-isolate when travelling to Nova Scotia, but they must be prepared to provide proof of their place of residency at provincial borders.
Visitors from outside the Atlantic region who have already self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate again.
It is mandatory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in Nova Scotia.