Province reports 52 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday as testing hits new high
Total is province's second-highest number of new daily cases since start of pandemic
Nova Scotia reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the province's number of active cases to 201.
The highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the province was 55 on Apr. 23, 2020.
Forty-four of the new cases are in the central health zone, which was placed under new restrictions on Friday. One of the cases listed Saturday is at Oyster Pond Academy in Oyster Pond.
Four cases are in the eastern zone, including one at Shipyard Elementary in Sydney.
There were four cases in the northern zone, one at Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro.
The school cases in Sydney and Truro were reported on Friday but not included in Friday's numbers.
New school cases announced
The province also announced five new school-related cases Saturday evening. It wasn't immediately clear whether these cases were part of Saturday's initial case numbers.
In a release, officials confirmed cases at Caledonia Junior High and Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, Citadel High School in Halifax, and Breton Education Centre in New Waterford.
There was also a case connected to Astral Drive Elementary, which was one of more than two dozen Dartmouth-area schools closed last week due to concerns over COVID-19.
Students in the Prince Andrew family of schools, which includes Caledonia Junior High, will switch to at-home learning until May 10.
Citadel High School students will also switch to at-home learning; according to the release, families will receive an update on Sunday about when the building will reopen.
Students from the Breton Education Centre will learn from home until April 29 while a deep cleaning takes place.
Everyone who is a close contact of a known case will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days, according to Public Health. It's also recommending that all students and staff be tested out of an "abundance of caution."
Nova Scotia Health labs conducted a record number of tests on Friday — 7,910, not including rapid tests.
In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Premier Iain Rankin described the rising case numbers as "serious" and urged Nova Scotians to heed public health advice in order to bring the virus under control.
Halifax: straight up. This is serious. Stay home. Stick to your small circle of contacts. Cases are rising; there is community spread. Stop this virus - no non-essential travel in or out of HRM and surrounding communities; keep your distance; wash your hands; wear a mask.—@IainTRankin
Testing numbers swell
Nova Scotians have been responding in large numbers to Public Health's calls for testing.
Between April 16-22, 6,520 tests were administered at rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax and Lower Sackville.
Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Dalhousie University, said a rapid-testing site at the Halifax Convention Centre in downtown Halifax saw 1,625 tests done on Thursday.
Rapid testing is continuing over the weekend in the central health zone.
There were about 100 people in line at the Sackville Sports Stadium in Lower Sackville before testing began at 11 a.m. Testing at that site will continue until 6 p.m. Saturday,
Rapid testing continues Saturday at the Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street from noon-7 p.m.
A rapid testing site will be available at the Alderney Gate Public Library in Dartmouth from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday.
On Sunday, rapid testing is scheduled to take place at East Dartmouth Community Centre on Caledonia Road from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Contact tracing priorities change
In a news release from Nova Scotia Health Saturday evening, the authority said Public Health will "shift contact tracing priorities."
The release said public health is able to contact new cases within 24-hours but it may experience delays in contacting the high-risk contacts of those cases.
In some situations close contacts may be contacted by letter or text rather than a phone call, it said, but a Public Health nurse would follow up by phone — although in some cases it might take longer than 72 hours.
Potential exposure sites
On Friday, a news release from Nova Scotia Health said that potential exposure sites in the central zone will now only be released if Public Health recommends people self-isolate and get tested.
More than two dozen high risk potential exposures were included in a list released late Friday night.
A tweet from the NSLC on Saturday said its store on Prince Street in Sydney would be closed Saturday and Sunday for cleaning due to a COVID-19 exposure.
Our Prince St store in Sydney will be closed today & tomorrow due to COVID-19 exposure. We will disinfect the store and expect to re-open Monday morning. We will share more information as we receive it from Public Health. Thank you for continuing to respect our safety precautions—@theNSLC