COVID-19 cases spike in Nova Scotia, while other hot spots show signs of improvement

·3 min read

Nova Scotia hit a new single-day record number for COVID-19 cases on Sunday, even as there were hints that Canada's two biggest provinces were making fragile progress in the fight against the pandemic.

Nova Scotia reported 63 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day figure recorded since the onset of the global pandemic.

Most of the cases were found in the province’s central zone, which includes Halifax. Premier Iain Rankin introduced a month-long lockdown for the city and its surrounding communities last week.

Rankin took to Twitter on Sunday to urge residents to get tested for the virus.

"The more we test, the better we protect our families, communities (and) province," he wrote.

He also announced the province would double fines for breaking public health orders from $1,000 to $2,000 as he expressed anger over a party that was broken up by Halifax police on Friday night.

"Why?" he asked. "Why would you put yourself at risk? And worse, someone else?"

While the virus appeared to be gaining steam out east, the news was more positive in two of Canada's biggest COVID-19 hot spots.

New cases in Ontario were once again below the 4,000 mark on Sunday after hitting record highs throughout mid-April.

Hospitalizations also declined by 151 over the last 24 hours, although the number of people in intensive care remained dangerously high, rising by 18 over the same period. Numbers show 851 of the province's 2,126 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in intensive care.

Quebec, meanwhile, reported its fourth straight decline in hospitalizations, as the province's seven-day average continued to drop slightly with the report of just over 1,000 new infections.

Health Minister Christian Dube said the situation in the province remains fragile, "but hope is on the horizon."

"Let's stick together in the coming weeks," he wrote, noting that the province expects to open vaccination to the remaining adult population at the end of May.

Health officials in Manitoba reported a "trend of concerning case numbers" in the Chemawawin Cree Nation on the north shore of Cedar Lake.

The province said that in response, the First Nation's chief and council have banned public gatherings and residents must stay at home except for work, medical care, or to get essential supplies.

The province reported 259 cases on Sunday, but no deaths.

Saskatchewan reported two new deaths among COVID-19 patients, as well as 249 new cases, while Alberta logged 1,437 new infections and three virus-related deaths.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported four new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador recorded two.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, issued a statement saying the escalating national vaccination effort has already had a positive impact on COVID-19 caseloads in a number of groups. Those include older populations, health-care workers and Indigenous communities, she said.

Health Canada, meanwhile, reiterated past reassurances from Procurement Minister Anita Anand that Canada's vaccine supply was not affected by quality control issues at a key facility in the United States.

Canada had received 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot from the Baltimore-based plant run by Emergent BioSolutions, and the federal department said all of them passed muster.

Health Canada said it reviewed the test results of all of the vaccine doses that entered the country, and all meet quality specifications.

The facility also manufactures Johnson & Johnson shots, but none have yet entered Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2021

The Canadian Press