Nova Scotia

N.S. brings in new testing requirements for some ferry passengers from N.L.

Nova Scotia announced two new cases Friday, bringing the province's total active caseload to 15.

Nova Scotia announces 2 new cases Friday, bringing province's total active caseload to 15

The province is launching the first community-based vaccination clinic next week. (Guillermo Legaria/Getty )

All travellers entering Nova Scotia from Newfoundland and Labrador on the Marine Atlantic ferry who are exempt from self-isolation requirements will be required to get a COVID-19 test at the North Sydney, N.S., ferry terminal starting this Sunday.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, made the announcement about the new measures during a briefing on Friday afternoon.

The mandatory tests will affect workers including truckers who enter the province on the ferry. All other passengers on the ferry will be encouraged to get a test, but will not be required to take one.

Travellers who are exempt from the province's two-week self-isolation requirement but are now required to get a test at the ferry terminal will not need to self-isolate while they wait for their test result. If exempt travellers arrive by ferry daily or almost every day, they can get tested once per week.

Strang said the province is also working toward making testing mandatory for all truckers, and is eyeing setting up a testing site at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, N.S.

The mandatory testing at the ferry terminal comes as Newfoundland continues to see growth in the number of cases.

Two new cases in N.S.

Nova Scotia announced two new cases on Friday, bringing the province's total active caseload to 15.

One new case is in the eastern zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. That person is self-isolating. The other case is in the central zone and is a close contact of a previously announced case.

The province's health authority carried out 1,700 tests on Thursday.

Strang said testing is being ramped up in both Beaver Bank and New Minas, where cases with unknown sources have occurred.

A case of COVID-19 was reported in connection with Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary School in Beaver Bank this week, and an exposure notification was issued for the New Minas area recently. The province says anyone who was in those areas is encouraged to book an appointment for a test.

Potential COVID-19 exposures

On Friday, Nova Scotia's health authority announced two new potential COVID-19 exposure notifications, as well as modified the time of an existing one.

Anyone who was at the following location(s) should book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or contact 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms. People do not have to self-isolate while they await test results, unless they have symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Carl's Your Independent Grocer at 396 Main St. in Wolfville on Feb. 11 between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 25.
  • Walmart at 9097 Commercial St. in New Minas on Feb. 11 between 10 and 11 a.m. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 24.

The beginning of the potential exposure time at the Burger King in New Minas at 9148 Commercial St. on Feb. 10 was changed from noon to 11 a.m., until 1 p.m.

A full list of potential COVID-19 exposures is maintained here.

Community vaccine clinics

The province is expecting a shipment of 14,000 doses next week, and the federal government has confirmed that Nova Scotia will receive 10,000 doses a week after that until at least the end of March. Strang said he expects vaccine delivery to ramp up after that.

The first community-based clinic in Nova Scotia will open next week at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax for Nova Scotians who are 80 or older. Other clinics will open over the coming weeks, including:

  • on Monday, March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro.
  • on Monday, March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth.
  • on Monday, March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth.

Between Feb. 24 and March 5, MSI will send letters to 48,000 Nova Scotians who are 80 or older as of March 1, advising them how and where to get vaccinated. Anyone who turns 80 after March 1 will be able to book an appointment as of their 80th birthday.

Next week will also see the launch of the first of 13 vaccination clinics hosted in Mi'kmaw communities. The first clinic will be located at the Millbrook First Nation Health Centre.

"The Mi'kmaq are uniquely exposed to the risks of COVID-19 and given the risks to older individuals in particular, it is especially important that we protect Elders who maintain our history, oral traditions and language," said Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade in a news release.

"We are encouraging individuals to become immunized to protect the health and wellness of our Elders and our communities."

Eskasoni vaccination plans

Eskasoni First Nation — the largest reserve in the province with a population of around 5,000 — is also gearing up for vaccinations. Approximately 700 people in the community are 55 or older.

Dates are still tentative, but they're looking at March 8-11 to administer the first dose to people above 55, and March 29 to April 1 for the second one, said Sharon Rudderham, the community's director of health.

"Because of the impact of chronic diseases on our communities, our elder populations are fairly small [relative to non-Indigenous communities]," she said. "We certainly don't want to see those numbers continue to decrease. We want to maintain our elder population ... their knowledge, their language.

"There's so much for them to share with younger generations."

Rudderham said the community has several nurses who speak Mi'kmaq . They have helped develop educational materials through the pandemic, and the campaign to draw people to the vaccination clinics will be carried out in both languages.

Community testing

Rapid testing will be available at the following locations and times:

  • Friday, Feb. 19 at Paul O'Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library from 12:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 19 at the Lion's Community Hall at 39 Lions Ave., in St. Peter's from noon-6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre at 606 Reeves St., from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 20 the New Minas Fire Department at 6 Jones Rd. from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre at 1583 Beaver Bank Rd. from noon-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 21 at the New Minas Fire Department at 6 Jones Rd. from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre at 1583 Beaver Bank Rd from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A public health mobile unit was at the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre at 1583 Beaver Bank Rd. on Friday to work with families and staff of Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary School, where a case connected with the school was reported this week.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • New Brunswick reported six new cases on Friday. There are 105 known active cases.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported 60 new cases Friday, bringing the province to 417 known active cases.

  • P.E.I. reported one new case on Thursday. There are now two active cases on the Island.

With files from Holly Conners