N.S. reports 13 new cases Wednesday, case identified at Citadel High School
Health authority announces it is easing restrictions on visitor access to hospitals
Nova Scotia announced 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total caseload to 164.
Seven of the new cases are in the central zone, and of those, two are close contacts of previously announced cases, two are related to travel and three are under investigation.
Six of the new cases are in the eastern zone. Three are close contacts, two are related to travel and one is under investigation.
The province also reported one new case connected to Citadel High School in Halifax, but since that case was identified after the cut-off time for tabulating daily cases, it will be included in Thursday's numbers.
The high school will be closed until Monday to allow for testing of close contacts and a thorough cleaning of the school. Public Health will get in touch with anyone deemed a close contact, and those people will be asked to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days. An initial assessment has suggested there are a limited number of close contacts in the case.
Public Health is encouraging all staff and students at the school to get tested.
Late Monday, the province announced a positive COVID-19 case at Fairview Junior High in the central zone. Like Citadel High, the school will be closed until Monday for a deep cleaning and to allow for COVID testing. The school will inform families about at-home learning. Public Health will get in touch with people who should get tested.
15 people hospitalized
There are now 15 people in hospital with COVID-19, including seven in intensive care.
As of Wednesday, 62 per cent of the overall population in the province has received one dose of vaccine, including 4.7 per cent who have received both doses.
Labs in the province processed 4,171 tests on Tuesday.
Visitor restrictions easing
As the third wave continues receding and case numbers fall, Nova Scotia Health is loosening restrictions at health facilities beginning Wednesday, allowing more support people for hospital patients.
The health authority announced Wednesday morning that expanded access will be phased in and will align with the province's reopening plans, contingent on the numbers of COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 hospital admissions and vaccination rates.
Beginning Wednesday, two support people will be permitted for patients in intensive care, critically ill patients in the emergency department and for labour and birth.
During Phase 2 of reopening, which would happen on June 16 at the earliest, one support person will be permitted for all in-patients and patients in the emergency department, and three will be allowed for palliative patients and those nearing the end of their lives.
Phase 3, scheduled for June 30 at the earliest, would see two support people permitted for in-patients and four for those in palliative care or nearing the end of their lives.
Phase 4, which will coincide with the province's move to that stage of reopening, would allow one support person for ambulatory appointments.
On May 2, Nova Scotia Health restricted the number of support people for patients to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ahead of schedule
At Wednesday afternoon's COVID-19 briefing, Premier Iain Rankin said Nova Scotia was making significant progress with its vaccination drive,
Rankin said that as of Tuesday, 62 per cent of Nova Scotians had received their first vaccine dose and the province was ahead of schedule in administering second doses.
He said the province expected to administer a "milestone" 17,000 doses on Wednesday.
Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said there is still some evidence of community spread in Halifax but daily case numbers are holding steady.
He urged Nova Scotians to continue to get tested even if they have no symptoms.
He said the province was on track with the rest of Canada to have 75 per cent of the population vaccinated by late summer or early fall.
Vaccine supply increasing
According to Strang, many people in the province have been able to move up their appointments for a second shot due to increased availability of vaccine.
He said the province is expected to get a "significant amount" of Moderna vaccine, though no timeframe has been given.
"Previously, all projections were based on Pfizer supply," he said.
Strang said the province will work to identify groups and communities in Nova Scotia that have a lower level of vaccine uptake and work to improve their access.
He noted that 302 people who can't leave their homes have already received the vaccine in their home and that program will be expanded.
He said drive-thru clinics have been opened for people who may have mobility issues, and a vaccine clinic will open at the Ummah Masjid mosque in Halifax this Saturday.
The vaccine clinic at the mosque will "make members of the Islamic community feel comfortable," according to Strang, but anyone can book a vaccine at that location.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported 13 news cases Wednesday for 105 active cases.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases on Wednesday for 53 active cases.
- P.E.I. reported two new cases last Thursday and has five active cases.