Public health officials in the Atlantic provinces report seven new cases of COVID-19

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said Tuesday it appeared the public has been following public health orders that were put in place to prevent a surge of cases during the holiday season.

Dr. Robert Strang told reporters the province reported 13 new COVID-19 infections between Dec. 25 and Dec. 28. "It will take another week or so for our case numbers to tell for sure, but by all accounts it sounds like Nova Scotians have stepped up once again," he said.

Strang, however, said the week leading up to New Years celebrations will be critical to any easing of restrictions in early 2021. "Given what we know about how COVID spreads it's important that we all continue to limit your travel, follow public health measures and keep your socializing to a minimum," he said.

There has been no evidence in the province, he said, of a new variant of the novel coronavirus that first popped up in the United Kingdom and has since been detected in other parts of Canada.

Strang said he wouldn't be surprised if the new variant eventually shows up in Nova Scotia, adding that the chances of that happening will be reduced if Ottawa goes through with a plan to strengthen rules for travellers arriving at Canadian airports.

"Very small numbers of our (Nova Scotia) cases have been from travel outside of North America," Strang noted.

Health officials reported two new cases Tuesday. One case is located in the Halifax area and is linked to a close contact of a previously reported infection, while the other in the northern zone is linked to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One person is currently in hospital with the disease.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also reported two new cases each Tuesday. In New Brunswick, the two new cases involve a person in their 20s in the Edmundston region and someone in their 50s in the Bathurst area. Both cases are isolating and under investigation.

The number of active reported cases in New Brunswick is 31, and three patients are hospitalized with the disease, with two in intensive care.

Two new travel-related cases in Prince Edward Island are not connected to each other and involve a woman in her 30s and a male in his late teens.

Both individuals had travelled outside Atlantic Canada and have been isolating since their arrival in the province. Prince Edward Island has six active reported cases of COVID-19 and has reported a total of 96 infections since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed the importance of isolating after returning from travel outside Atlantic Canada.

“It continues to be one of the most effective public health measures that we’ve put in place, along with handwashing, physical distancing and wearing a non-medical mask, to help keep Islanders safe during the pandemic," she said Tuesday in a statement.

Newfoundland and Labrador meanwhile, reported one new case Tuesday. The province has 19 active reported infections, and one person is in hospital with the disease. Health officials said the case involves a man in his 40s.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2020.

— With files by Kevin Bissett in Fredericton and Keith Doucette in Halifax.

The Canadian Press