HALIFAX — Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, as the province continued expanding its vaccine rollout to get booster shots into arms.
Fifteen new cases were in the Halifax area, and the remaining case was identified in the eastern health zone, which includes Cape Breton.
Health officials said 11 of the cases in greater Halifax involve close contacts within a linked group of families. No other details were provided, although officials said the cluster did not represent "wide community spread."
"Today's cases are a bit higher than what we have seen lately," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release.
Three of the new cases were identified at two Halifax schools, with two connected to Joseph Howe Elementary School and the other to St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary School. The schools are closed to allow for testing of close contacts and a deep cleaning of the buildings.
Health officials said everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Strang said the small jump in new cases serves as an "important reminder" to the public to keep social circles small as the province reopens and eases health restrictions. "Get vaccinated as soon as you can and get tested often," he said.
The province also announced Friday that people who got their first dose of vaccine on or before May 20 could reschedule their appointment for a booster shot. As of Thursday, 847,830 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, with 147,001 people having received a booster shot.
Strang said during a briefing on Thursday that 71.9 per cent of all Nova Scotians aged 12 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine, while 13.4 per cent are were fully vaccinated.
"Seventy-five per cent is our minimum target, but I would like that to be much higher so that we can get the very best level of protection," he said. "The more vaccine we get in arms, the more (reopening) risk we can accept."
Strang has said public health is working to administer another 400,000 doses of vaccine over the next month.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press