Provincewide shutdown begins in Nova Scotia as officials report 75 new COVID-19 cases

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HALIFAX — As Nova Scotia began a provincewide lockdown Wednesday, the province reported 75 new cases of COVID-19.

The new figure was a slight drop from the record 96 cases reported by the province Tuesday.

Sixty-seven of the new infections were in the Halifax area, six were in the province's eastern zone and the western and northern health zones each had one new case. Nova Scotia has 489 active reported infections with 11 people in hospital, including three in intensive care.

Among the newly identified infections were a staff member at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax, a staff member at Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Sackville and one case at the Strait Area Education Recreation Centre in Port Hawkesbury.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang has said the case at Northwood, where 53 of the province's 67 virus-related deaths occurred last spring, is giving him the "least anxiety" during the current outbreak because the majority of residents and staff are already vaccinated.

Janet Simm, Northwood's chief executive said in an interview Wednesday that the case was to be expected, given there are 2,000 workers employed at the facility's two campuses.

"It's not a surprise. We are a reflection of what's happening in our community," said Simm. "The words from Dr. Strang yesterday were very reassuring ... not just for families but for our staff at Northwood as well."

Simm said over 90 per cent of Northwood's nearly 385 residents are fully vaccinated. About 80 per cent of staff have also been vaccinated, and Simm said most of them have received both shots, though she didn't have an exact number.

Simm said all residents who came into contact with the infected staff member have been tested, and a small number of staff identified as close contacts have also been tested and sent home to self-isolate. She said no other traces of the virus have been detected so far as the facility prepares a broader testing strategy for residents as a precaution.

"We are awaiting the results of the tests, and in the meantime residents are being isolated in their rooms," she said.

Meanwhile, the two-week provincewide lockdown has closed all schools and non-essential indoor services across the province.

With testing volumes up, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Army deployed about 75 members to assist at provincial COVID-19 testing centres. The help had been requested by the province.

Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens said the help would be distributed across the province, including at two locations in the Halifax area: the Canada Games Centre in Halifax and the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth. Owens said the teams would also be at testing centres in Membertou First Nation, Truro, Wolfville and Yarmouth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press