Nova Scotia surprised by New Brunswick's 'risk tolerance' in opening to Canada

·3 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's premier says he is surprised at how quickly New Brunswick has opened its borders to travellers from the rest of Canada.

Thursday's move by Nova Scotia's neighbour comes almost a week ahead of a planned regional reopening by the other three Atlantic provinces on June 23.

"I was surprised that their risk tolerance is different," Iain Rankin told reporters during a briefing Thursday.

While Rankin was careful not to comment further, he said the regional partners would continue talks on how to approach reopening, and he emphasized that currently his province plans a wider reopening to the rest of Canada on July 14.

Under New Brunswick's opening, travellers from the Atlantic region don't have to self-isolate upon arrival, and neither do those from elsewhere in Canada who have received a first dose of vaccine. Unvaccinated visitors from outside the region will have to isolate and produce a negative test before being released from quarantine.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the province will be watching infection levels in New Brunswick closely as a result of that province's early decision.

"It will take at least two weeks to see the impact of their opening," Strang told reporters. "They certainly are introducing a higher level of risk into their province and we are watching ... because that has implications for us."

Officials reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia on Thursday -- 12 in the Halifax area and one in each of the province's eastern and western health zones. The province has 97 known active cases of novel coronavirus.

Strang also reported that 69 per cent of the province's population has now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, adding that an expected large shipment of the Moderna vaccine would likely further advance the timeline for reaching the goal of having 75 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.

An original estimate of middle to late fall to reach the target was recently moved to September. "We're now in the space of early to mid-August when we might actually hit our targets for second doses," Strang said.

He said 200,000 people have been invited to move their second shot appointments up, and that process will accelerate with the arrival in the next few weeks of 400,000 doses of vaccine — the majority of it Moderna.

"This is a dramatic surge in our supply and well above the maximum we anticipated," said Strang. "Our goal is to get it out as quickly as possible while maintaining quality and safety."

With many second shots now expected to be Moderna, Strang emphasized that there is "no substantive difference" between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

"The only real difference is that they are made by different companies," he said. "If you wait for Pfizer you risk waiting longer to get full immunity, so please don't do that."

As of Wednesday, 735,008 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, and 66,248 people have received a booster shot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2021.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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