Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 in the province's northern zone.
The new case is connected to a previously reported case in the region.
During a news briefing on Wednesday, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said there were three clusters in the northern zone — which includes Colchester-East Hants, Cumberland and Pictou areas — in the past two weeks. He said there are no links between any of the three clusters.
One of the clusters involved two foreign workers who travelled to Nova Scotia from another country for work purposes. Strang said those people had been self-isolating as required and were tested as part of their employer's quarantine protocols. He said nobody in Nova Scotia was exposed to COVID-19 by these workers.
Another cluster involved somebody who travelled from outside the Atlantic Bubble and did not self-isolate.
"In this situation, the individual incorrectly believed they were exempt from self-isolation," Strang said. "But they were not."
No evidence of widespread community spread
Because of this a close contact and two people who were at a restaurant at the same time as the case contracted COVID-19, Strang said.
The third cluster involved a person who came to Nova Scotia as part of their work and later tested positive in their home province. Strang said health officials believe an individual in Nova Scotia contracted COVID-19 from this person and then spread it to three of their close contacts.
"Other than the two cases linked to the restaurant, we have not seen any evidence of community spread," Strang said.
Strang said the clusters show why Nova Scotians need to stay vigilant and follow public health directives and advice.
"Our goal is not to have zero cases, but our goal is to keep the numbers low and minimize community transmission," Strang said.
The province announced how before-and-after-school programs will work this fall.
Strang said said those programs will be able to operate in groups of up to 15 without physical distancing. He said there can be multiple groups within a program, but the 15 people in each group will have to physically distance from members of another group.
Public health measures will be followed in these programs whether they're run through the school or through a community group. These protocols include wearing masks, increased hand-washing and more cleaning, Strang said.
"We know the before-and-after-school programs are critically important at providing a vital service to families. We need to make sure they operate safe," Strang said.
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union and a group of parents are planning a news conference on Thursday morning at the Westin to air out their concerns with the province's back-to-school plan.
"With less than two weeks until students return to class, concerns about class sizes, lack of physical distancing and the insufficient safety precautions have yet to be properly addressed by government," the teachers union said in a news release.
Long-term care relaxing restrictions
Some restrictions at long-term care homes in Nova Scotia will be lifted, Strang said.
While indoor visits will continue to be restricted to one visitor at a time, he said there's no limit to how many visitors a resident can put on their list.
Residents will also be allowed to leave the facility with a family member to attend non-urgent medical appointments. Strang said this will allow residents to see their family more often.
Gathering limit increases at 4 N.S. venues
Larger gathering limits will be possible for some venues that "will allow us to further reopen Nova Scotia," Strang said.
Strang said the province has been working with four spots about increasing gathering limits: Centre 200 in Sydney, the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, the Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish County and Scotia Speedway near the Halifax airport.
"These four are able to expand their gatherings because hosting large events is at their core business, they are able to manage the public health criteria and they have the physical infrastructure in their facility to accommodate safely these larger gathering sizes," Strang said.
Strang said the changes to these specific venues means they can host multiple groups of 200 people for indoor events and multiple groups of 250 people for outdoor events, but Strang said "only if each specific group of 200 or 250 remains separate from the other groups."
The reason these locations were chosen is because of their size and because they have enough entrances and exits to accommodate the groups.
The groups of 200 will still need to wear masks and will still need to maintain a physical distance from each other. In terms of what this will look like in practice a family of four attending an event at one of these venues wouldn't need to keep two metres apart from one another, but together they would need to keep two metres apart from everyone else.
Strang said provincial officials are in the process of reviewing Centre 200 and the Scotiabank Centre's plans on how they'll operate Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games under these new guidelines.5 active cases
The COVID-19 case announced Wednesday was among 621 Nova Scotia tests completed Tuesday at the QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab.
There are now five known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.
So far, the province has had 72,532 negative test results, 1,081 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths. The most recent death was reported on Sunday.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
New Brunswick has eight active cases but reported no new cases on Wednesday.
Newfoundland and Labrador had no new cases on Tuesday and the province continues to have no known active cases.
P.E.I. has three active cases as of Wednesday.
Anyone with the following symptoms of COVID-19 should go to this website to see if they should call 811 for further assessment:
Fever (chills, sweats).
Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
Shortness of breath.
Nasal congestion/runny nose.
Loss of sense of smell or taste.
Red, purple or bluish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers that do not have a clear cause.
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