Nova Scotia to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for rotational workers
One new case of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia reported on Tuesday
Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with 27 active cases in the province.
The new case is in the province's central health zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness.
The province also announced mandatory testing for rotational workers returning to Nova Scotia after working in another part of the country.
The high number of cases, especially in Alberta where many Nova Scotians work, is concerning, Premier Stephen McNeil said in Tuesday's press briefing.
Currently, rotational workers are asked to get tested within the first two days of their return to Nova Scotia, and again about a week later.
"Not all rotational workers are complying, and that's a problem," he said.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said only about one-third of rotational workers are actually getting tested. He estimates there are "a few thousand" who come in an out of the province regularly for work.
Effective Friday, COVID-19 testing will be mandatory for rotational workers who work outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Audits will be completed, and rotational workers will be contacted by phone to remind them of the need to get tested. Anyone who does not get tested will be fined $1,000.
Regardless of test results, rotational workers must complete their modified 14-day self-isolation.
Nova Scotia Health is advising of potential COVID-19 exposures at seven locations in the Truro area and on two Air Canada flights to Halifax, according to a news release issued Tuesday evening. A list of exposure warnings in the province can be found here.
Funding for universities
The province will be spending $25 million to help Nova Scotia universities manage the financial impact of the pandemic, according to a news release issued Tuesday from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
The funding is intended to help with revenue lost in 2020-2021 related to tuition and residence fees, and pandemic-related costs around curriculum development, information technology and increased cleaning.
The money will be doled out to 10 Nova Scotia universities based on information they provided to the province about expenses they incurred in response to the pandemic.
Dalhousie University will receive the largest portion of the funding, close to $9.5 million. The Atlantic School of Theology is getting the smallest chunk, about $218,000.
The funding is for university institutions only — Nova Scotia Community College is not listed among the recipients.
Returning students urged to get tested
Five cases have been identified at Nova Scotia universities in January, including two on Monday, as students return from winter break.
The province is urging students who have returned from outside the Atlantic provinces to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their quarantine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must complete a self-assessment online or call 811. Students still must complete their 14-day isolation period even with a negative test result.
Strang said the testing requirements for university students and rotational workers are different because students are making a one-time return to the province from the holidays, whereas rotational workers are coming in and out consistently.
Multiple fines issued
Police in Halifax say they have issued tickets for failing to comply with the public health regulations in two separate incidents last weekend.
Halifax Regional Police said the first incident happened at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, after they received a report that a delivery driver from a Bedford restaurant was not wearing a mask while delivering orders to an apartment building.
Officers issued a $1,000 summary offence ticket to the man for violating the Health Protection Act, according to a news release sent out on Tuesday.
The current COVID regulations require people to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while in an indoor public space, which includes building lobbies.
Police confirmed on Tuesday the incident was not connected to the Lower Sackville restaurant Hellas, whose owner was also fined on Friday for failing to wear a mask.
Police responded to a separate incident at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday at a residence in Halifax.
There was a report of a social gathering that exceeded the gathering limits of 10 people. A police spokesperson, Const. John MacLeod, said there were approximately 20 people in the residence.
Officers issued tickets to three men, the residents of the home, and each were fined $1,000.
More vaccinations start in N.S.
On Monday, a Cape Breton nurse was the first to be immunized outside of the Halifax region and the province also began vaccinating long-term care residents at Northwood.
Strang called it a "milestone moment" in the province's immunization campaign, adding that more than 3,800 vaccines have been administered in the province so far. Most of those are people getting their first dose, but some have already received their second and final dose.
An additional 5,850 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 3,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be shipped to the province before the end of the week.
McNeil said by June, the province expects to have received one million doses.
By the end of January, Strang said vaccination sites will be set up at four hospitals outside Halifax and six long-term care facilities in the province.
Immunizations using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began in the western health zone on Tuesday, starting at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.
Phase 1 vaccinations in the western zone will be limited to health-care workers and designated caregivers at long-term care facilities, according to a government spokesperson.
To combat misinformation and skepticism about the vaccine, Strang said the province is working on a communications strategy before Phase 2 vaccinations begin to roll out in the spring.
N.S.-N.B. travel clarifications
Last week, the province announced anyone coming into Nova Scotia from New Brunswick would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. That came into effect on Jan. 9.
People who routinely travel across the border for work or school are exempt from this, Strang clarified in Tuesday's briefing. They can get a chit from border staff to put in their windshield, and do not need to complete the online check-in form.
Nova Scotia parents who are dropping off their child at a New Brunswick university, and vice versa, in the coming days are also exempt. They must travel directly there and back and not have close contact with anyone on the trip.
Any resident of Nova Scotia who was in New Brunswick on Jan. 9 can complete their self-isolation in New Brunswick and travel directly from there to their home in Nova Scotia without needing to undergo a second quarantine period. They must do this within 24 hours of completing their self-isolation.
They can also come to Nova Scotia partway through their self-isolation period to complete it at home, as long as they travel directly. Both options require them to check in online first.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 does not replace the need for self-isolation for travellers coming from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador. It's not yet known whether the vaccine protects against asymptomatic infection and spread, Strang said.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:
- New Brunswick reported 17 new cases on Tuesday and 219 active cases. The province is also reporting two deaths, bringing the total to 11 since the start of the pandemic. Every zone of the province has been rolled back to orange-phase restrictions to deal with the growing number of cases.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Monday. There are five active cases in the province, with one person in hospital.
- P.E.I. reported one new case on Tuesday — the person travelled outside of Atlantic Canada and is self-isolating. There are now eight active cases on the island.