Nova Scotia reports one new COVID-19 case, warns against complacency as cases rise

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotians should be concerned about rising cases of COVID-19 even though the province's infection numbers aren't anywhere close to those elsewhere in Canada, chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said Tuesday. 

Strang issued a strong warning against complacency during a media briefing. He cited Manitoba, a province of comparable size, and like Nova Scotia saw few or no new cases of COVID-19 through the summer months.

"Until a few weeks ago, Manitoba was on the same track as Nova Scotia ... but things can change within the blink of an eye," Strang said. Manitoba reported 241 new COVID-19 cases Monday and five more deaths linked to the virus, he said, adding that the province is dealing with wide community spread.

"I use that as an example of how we need to pay careful attention and we cannot become complacent about COVID," Strang said.

Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday in the province's northern zone. The province now has 16 active cases -- 11 of which have been reported since Wednesday.

Most cases are related to travel, but Strang said there are two groups of several cases that are still under investigation. He said preliminary findings indicate there is no community spread, but he added it was still too early to confirm. "The fact that we are seeing more and more cases should put all of us on higher alert," Strang said.

He said health officials weren't ready to suggest the government increase testing or tighten restrictions on travellers, including for rotational workers who routinely leave the province for work. Strang said the province is trying to maintain a balance between protecting public health and allowing people who travel for work to participate in their communities when they return.

Premier Stephen McNeil also expressed concern about the modest increase in cases. "Are we becoming complacent?," McNeil asked. "Just because our cases are still lower than most anywhere in the country does not give us the right to ease up on our protocols."

Nova Scotia has reported a total of 1,114 COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Officials say 1,033 people have recovered.

The province also announced Tuesday it will gradually reopen school gymnasiums to community groups that want to use them for activities. Education Minister Zach Churchill said in a news release that access to the schools will be restricted to the gyms and to the washrooms.

He said the province will allocate $5.5 million in federal funding for the hiring of staff who will ensure access to the school buildings is limited to the designated areas. Churchill also said the province will waive rental fees for the school year to ensure equitable access to gym facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2020.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press