(Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
An outbreak of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador is a reminder of how quickly things can change, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health warned Tuesday in announcing three new cases of the illness — the highest one-day total since January.
The latest cases, which are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, bring the number of active known cases in Nova Scotia to 12.
"It is a reminder of the vulnerable position that Nova Scotia is in," said Dr. Robert Strang. "All we need to do is look at our neighbours in Newfoundland. We must stay the course and continue our cautious and vigilant approach."
One of the new cases is in the western health zone, while the other two are in the central zone. The three people are self-isolating.
Nova Scotia Health labs completed 1,381 tests on Monday.
No spread of variant strain found in N.S.
As Newfoundland and Labrador fights the outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 originating from the U.K., Strang said officials in Nova Scotia are still trying to determine the source of two variant cases.
More than 150 people identified as a possible source of exposure have been retested, as well as close contacts of the two confirmed variant cases.
As of Tuesday, all test results had come back negative. Strang said officials are still waiting for a few more results to come in.
"This is reassuring," he said. "We may not know the source of these variant cases at this time, but we have no indication of community spread."
Strang was asked during the briefing about whether he's considered speeding up Nova Scotia's vaccine rollout given how quickly Newfoundland saw their situation with the variant become an outbreak,
He said different vaccine plans wouldn't have prevented what happened in Newfoundland, since the vaccine is just one part of a COVID response.
Until Nova Scotia gets a "reliable ongoing supply" of the vaccine, Strang said the best approach is getting people their two doses as quickly as possible.
Other provinces may be stretching their supply by having more people vaccinated with one dose, but Strang said there's "no assurances" that they will have ongoing immunity from that single dose.
In fact, Strang said he's heard concerns about how a population with partial immunity that experiences a virus surge could lead to even more variants.
Largest vaccine shipment coming this week
The province said 23,140 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered as of Monday. More than 8,200 Nova Scotians had received a second dose.
Strang said the province expects to receive 10,530 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week — the single largest vaccine shipment for the province to date. The doses will be delivered to seven cold-storage sites across the province.
Half of the vaccines will be reserved for second doses. Strang said the number of expected doses account for the fact that six doses, rather than five, are now being drawn per vial.
Bookings fill up at vaccine prototype clinic
Booking opened on Tuesday for the prototype immunization clinic at the IWK Health Centre for those 80 or older.
Those getting invitations to book an appointment are being selected randomly by postal code, Strang said, which are all within an hour of the clinic. The clinic will run for four days starting Feb. 22.
There has been a lot of interest already, Strang said, so much so that the first two days of the clinic are almost fully booked.
While "most people" are fine to get the vaccine, Strang noted those who have had strong allergic reactions to any of the vaccine's ingredients, or have auto-immune issues, should speak to a medical professional before booking a time slot.
Potential COVID-19 exposures were issued Tuesday for 2 businesses in the central zone:
Giant Tiger (720 Sackville Dr., Lower Sackville) on Feb. 10 between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to Feb. 24.
Cheapy Tire & Auto Repair (302 Windmill Rd., Dartmouth) on Feb. 8, 11 and 12 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to Feb. 26.
Anyone who worked at or visited those locations during the specified dates and times should self-isolate immediately and book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms and even if they have already been tested. These individuals are also required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result.
Other clinics, pop-up sites
There are vaccine clinics for health-care workers running this week in Halifax, Truro, Kentville and Cape Breton.
Three more for health-care workers will be set up and ready to receive vaccines later this week. They are in Antigonish, on the South Shore and in Cumberland County.
Strang said vaccines were delivered to eight long-term care facilities last week and two more will receive them this week. They have vaccine clinics running in multiple long-term care locations this week.
There will be pop-up rapid testing available in Halifax, St. Peter's and Port Hawkesbury this week, for anyone over 16 without symptoms:
Thursday: Paul O'Regan Hall (Halifax Central Library rear doors) at 5440 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: Lions Community Hall, 39 Lions Ave., St. Peter's from noon-6:30 p.m.
Saturday: Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, 606 Reeves St. from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
Halifax Regional Police said Tuesday they ticketed two Halifax restaurants over the weekend for breaking public health measures related to COVID-19.
On Saturday around 8 p.m., police investigated a report that a restaurant was not following the province's Health Protection Act related to proper mask-wearing.
A summary offence ticket was issued. The ticket carries a fine of $7,500.
About two hours later, police looked into another report that a Halifax restaurant was not following provincial regulations related to the proper serving of patrons and the wearing of masks.
Police noted that restaurants can only serve dine-in customers until 10 p.m., and must close by 11 p.m. Police once again issued a summary offence ticket with a fine of $7,500.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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