N.S. reports 227 new COVID-19 cases, but province warns at least 200 more cases not in tally
Schools to remain closed until at least the end of the month; new border restrictions start Monday
As the province reports one new death from COVID-19 and 227 new cases — an all-time high — Premier Iain Rankin announced Friday that schools will remain closed for at least the rest of the month and new border restrictions will come into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday.
The person who died was a woman in her 70s who lived in the central health zone. She died at home.
In addition to the 227 new cases, Rankin said there are more than 200 other cases that have been identified but have not been fully processed by Public Health, and so have not been included in daily tallies.
Rankin urged Nova Scotians to abide by public health restrictions to stem rising case counts.
"We need you to stop — stop looking for loopholes, stop sneaking to another community to shop or visit your friends, stop trying to find an excuse to go to your cottage, stop shopping just for fun. Stop acting as if the third wave is the same as the first or the second, because it isn't. It's more aggressive, more deadly and we're all at increased risk."
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., the province's border will close to people entering from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador until at least the end of the month. Previously, the border was closed to those coming from other provinces for non-essential reasons.
The border will also be closed to anyone moving to Nova Scotia.
No more exceptions will be granted to people who want to enter the province for a funeral, and limited exceptions will be made for people who want to visit a dying family member.
The following groups of people will still be permitted to enter Nova Scotia:
- Permanent residents returning to the province.
- People who work outside the province.
- Post-secondary students returning home or entering to study — although parents from outside Nova Scotia are not allowed to pick students up or drop them off.
- People travelling for child custody reasons.
- People who are exempt from self-isolation and following the exempt traveller protocol.
- People who follow the protocol for travel between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for work, school and child care only.
The province will add an application process to the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in by May 14.
Rotational workers returning to Nova Scotia from outbreak zones will no longer be allowed to do the modified form of self-isolation that had previously been permitted.
Effective immediately, they must self-isolate for 14 days in a completely separate space from other people in their household — although they can share a bathroom that's cleaned between uses. They will not be allowed to attend medical appointments unless it's an emergency.
Strang said there have been incidents of people who have forged documents to get across the border, including emails from his office. Rankin said those who are caught lying will be fined $2,000.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, households must designate one person to do essential shopping, and stores must only allow one shopper per household, with exceptions for children and caregivers.
The province is also encouraging people to shop online and place orders for pickup or delivery whenever possible, and businesses to limit sales to items that are considered essential. Those who must shop in person are asked to do so for essential products only and to limit the amount of time they spend shopping.
"It is not the time to go to Costco for sandals that you heard were in stock," said Strang.
Essential products have been defined by the province as including:
- Pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices.
- Personal hygiene products.
- Cleaning products.
- Baby and child products.
- Gas stations and garages.
- Computer and cellphone service and repair.
- Electronic and office supplies.
- Hardware supplies and home appliances.
- Pet and animal supplies.
- Gardening supplies.
- Workplace safety supplies.
- Automobile purchases (by appointment only).
50 people now in hospital
Of the 227 new cases, 202 are in the central zone, 14 are in the eastern zone, nine are in the western zone and two are in the northern zone.
The new cases bring the province's total known active caseload to 1,464.
Fifty people are now in hospital, including nine in the intensive care unit.
The province continues to see high testing rates, with 7,816 COVID-19 tests processed on Thursday. A backlog of thousands of unprocessed tests was resolved on Wednesday.
The percentage of tested samples that are positive has tripled in the last few days, going from 1.1 on Monday to 2.2 on Tuesday, to 3.2 on Wednesday.
Positive test results may arrive by text
People with positive COVID-19 test results and people who are close contacts of those who have tested positive will now be able to receive their results by text, beginning today.
For those who cannot receive texts, or when a text delivery fails, Public Health will contact them by phone.
Nova Scotia Health announced that the measure will allow timely notification so people can start self-isolating immediately and limit further spread.
While a recent backlog in testing is now resolved, there is now a backlog in investigating positive cases, including finding and getting in touch with close contacts. Strang said the province has reached out to Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Statistics Canada for help in completing that work.
Strang said anyone who feels unwell should assume they have COVID-19, get tested, and they and their entire household should self-isolate until test results come back.
"People are tired, frustrated, overwhelmed and afraid. Some of you have checked out," Strang said during Friday's briefing. "But remember, the last part of any marathon is the hardest."
Effect of lockdown
Friday marks 10 days since a provincewide lockdown was implemented.
Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said it usually takes at least two weeks to see the impact of lockdowns on new case numbers, and Nova Scotia should start seeing the numbers trend downward by the middle of next week.
"We knew we were going to have a number of tough days," Strang told the CBC's Information Morning on Friday. "We're going to continue to have large numbers as we get through this for the next few days."
He added that due to the surge in testing, some people have had long waits to receive COVID-19 test results, but Public Health should be back on track soon, providing test results within 72 hours.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported eight new cases on Friday, and now has 140 active cases.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven new COVID-19 cases Friday. There are 63 active cases in the province.
- P.E.I. announced one new case Friday and the number of active cases is 10.