Nova Scotia is preparing to enter Phase 2 of its reopening plan with its lowest active caseload in nearly two months.
The province reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 29 recoveries, bringing the total active caseload to 97 — the lowest number since April 21.
Three of the cases are in the central zone and are close contacts of previous cases, and one is in the eastern zone and is related to travel.
There are six people in hospital, including four who are in intensive care.
"Nova Scotians are working hard and we are making progress. So we need to celebrate that, but let's also stay cautious," Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said during a briefing Tuesday alongside Premier Iain Rankin.
"We still have cases, and the delta variant is starting to circulate more widely in other parts of Canada."
Strang noted that England recently delayed its reopening for weeks due to a spike in cases connected to the delta variant, which was first detected in India and is highly contagious.
While Strang said it's encouraging to see the sources for Tuesday's new cases can all be traced, that trend would need to continue "for many more days" before he could conclusively say there is no more community spread within the central zone.
The province's positivity rate has been sitting around 0.2 per cent for the past few days, Strang said, which is also a very good sign.
Laboratories in the province processed 3,757 COVID-19 tests on Monday.
As of Tuesday, 67 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Indoor dining, gyms to reopen
The province announced Tuesday morning it will open its borders to Atlantic Canadians without a self-isolation requirement starting June 23.
The Nova Scotia government has also made $12.5 million directly available to tourism operators across the province to help them lure back visitors.
Nova Scotia will officially begin Phase 2 of its reopening plan Wednesday, which includes larger social gatherings, a return to indoor dining, and reopening of gyms.
"For those of you who have been away from family, tomorrow you can get that long-awaited hug," Rankin said.
A full list of Phase 2 details can be found on the provincial website here.
Booking website temporarily offline
The vaccination booking website was offline for part of Monday, but the Health Department tweeted Tuesday morning that it was available again.
Strang said Tuesday that inviting people to move up their second dose of the vaccine required a reconfiguration of the entire booking system. Strang said there were a few glitches that were fixed within 12 hours.
In an email, a Health Department spokesperson said people trying to book first doses and those trying to move up their second appointment led to a high volume of traffic Monday, creating a slowdown.
Since the online system is used internally for tracking information at the hundreds of vaccine clinics across Nova Scotia, the external booking site was taken offline until a solution was found. This allowed the clinics to remain online.
People invited to book 2nd shots
So far, anyone who had their first vaccine dose on or before April 24 has been invited to rebook their second shot, Strang said.
He encouraged people who have not yet been invited to book an earlier appointment to be patient. He said visiting the booking site prematurely or calling the toll-free number bogs down the system and makes things slower for everyone.
"Your turn will come," Strang said.
Nova Scotians who are unable to leave their homes because of health or mobility challenges can also now receive a COVID-19 vaccine at home.
2 cases at Halifax school
The province mistakenly reported Monday evening that two COVID-19 cases were connected to Joseph Howe Elementary School in Halifax.
Strang clarified Tuesday that the cases were in fact connected to St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary School in Halifax.
The school will be closed until June 18 for cleaning and close contact testing. Families and students will receive an update before then.
A news release said all students and staff at the school should be tested, but they do not need to self-isolate while waiting for results unless they are close contacts of a confirmed case.
Close contacts will be required to isolate for 14 days after they've been notified and tested.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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