HALIFAX — Nova Scotia on Friday reported its first single-digit COVID-19 case count since April, as the province headed toward the second phase of its reopening plan, scheduled for next week.
Health officials reported eight new cases of COVID-19 and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus, involving a man in his 50s in the Halifax area. The eight cases represented the lowest number of new daily infections since nine were reported on April 20.
Premier Iain Rankin told reporters the recent drop in COVID-19 cases bodes well for the government moving ahead with Phase 2 of its five-step reopening plan next Wednesday.
"It's good to see such a small number of cases," Rankin told reporters. "If all goes well … businesses will be able to open a little more and we can add a few more friends to our bubbles."
Six new cases were identified in the Halifax area and two in the eastern health zone, which includes Cape Breton. Nova Scotia has 143 active reported cases of COVID-19 and 10 people in hospital with the disease, including six in intensive care. There have been 89 deaths in the province linked to the virus.
Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said he expected to see a similar number of new daily cases for a "number of days" because of the limited community spread of the virus in the Halifax area.
Strang also warned people to stay vigilant because of the growing prevalence of the more infectious Delta variant across the country. He confirmed that two Delta variant cases that had been previously identified in the province have since been resolved.
"Single (vaccine) doses aren't very effective against this latest variant strain," he said. "A key reason why we need to remain cautious while we build our second-dose coverage."
Officials said 63.5 per cent of residents had received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nova Scotia's goal is to fully vaccinate 75 per cent of its population.
Rankin said to date, 85 per cent of people 55 years of age and older have received at least one shot, but he said the 16-to-30 age group "still has some work to do."
"You are at 65 per cent coverage, so we need you all to get out and book your first shot," he said. "We need our youngest and most social group to get out and get vaccinated."
The province also announced Friday it is looking to expand its rapid testing program for workplaces to allow for regular asymptomatic screening of employees. So far, officials said 275 businesses and organizations comprising 50,000 employees have signed up to take part.
Businesses must have a Health Department-approved testing plan to participate and will be provided free test kits by the province through the federal government.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press